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Youth Grief Support Program

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Helping Kids Grieve

Children are often lost in the shuffle when it comes to grieving, as adults deal with their own emotional needs. That's why grief support for kids is so important. We provide grief support for children and adolescents through the Baystate Home Health Youth Grief Support Program, which was a recipient of the Noble Hospital Spirit Award.

The Youth Grief Support Program serves 21 schools within the Westfield, Southwick, and Agawam public school systems. We recognize that children are not “little adults,” and that even though they're young and resilient, they need help navigating difficult times.

There is no charge to the families or to the school systems for this program.

How the Program Works

Groups meet in each school during the normal school day every two weeks from October through May.

Sessions are facilitated by two licensed clinical hospice social workers who have had extensive training and experience working with grieving children. School-based counselors assist in coordinating and providing any necessary follow-up care.

What the Program Does for Children

The grief support program provides basic education about grief and the grieving process to help kids understand that grief is a normal response to a loss.

Learning about the grief process can help to reassure grieving children that their feelings of grief are normal. Education can also help children to identify feelings of uncertainty, to become more comfortable in expressing those feelings, and to understand the grief responses of family members and friends. Children can learn from caring adults modeling appropriate ways of expressing grief.

The support program:

  • Encourages students to identify primary and secondary losses associated with the death of their loved one
  • Encourages students to identify feelings associated with the loss
  • Encourages students to appropriately express feelings (through discussion, journal writing, and participating in group activities), associated with the loss
  • Encourages students to identify, explore, discover and discuss coping patterns
  • Encourages students to identify and discuss adjustment issues
  • Encourages students to support each other through active listening and developing empathy

Learn More

For more information, please contact Carrie Walker-Ray by email or at 413-794-6411.