Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy regardless of our age. As I have grown older, death has become more familiar. Over many years I have experienced first-hand the emotions and the sadness associated with the loss of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and dear family friends. Along the way, I have learned to cope with each loss. For most children, death is a new experience. With anything new comes the unknown and to children, the unknown is very scary. I remember my first experience with death when my Grandpa Brown passed away when I was in the 8th grade. Scary doesn’t even begin to explain it. I had no idea how to respond, how to act. Death affects us all at some point in our life, but it can have a traumatic effect on the lives of children. Especially if a child experiences the death of a parent.
This week we volunteered with a non-profit organization that has been providing grief support programs, at no cost, to individuals in our area since its doors opened in 1993. Erin’s House for Grieving Children provides support for children, teens, and their families who have suffered the death of a loved one. A safe and comfortable environment is provided where children can spend time with other children who have lost a loved one. They learn to open up, talk about their feelings, and learn that they are not alone.
We volunteered as house parents during a recent program night. Our role was to greet families and help set up for dinner. We served pizza and cake, poured drinks, and offered each and every child a smile before the evening’s programming started. Once the sessions began, we cleaned up the empty pizza boxes, discarded trash, and wiped down tables. In all, our volunteer experience lasted about two hours. It was a great and easy way to serve together as a family. We definitely plan to help out again in the future.
The programs offered by Erin’s House for Grieving Children are extremely important. According to their website, healthy grieving is not only good for the bereaved, it is also good for our community. It is known that the inability of a child to properly cope with the death of a loved one can, and will, lead to poor performance at school, depression, and potential suicide. Erin’s House is working each and every day to ensure that all children learn critical coping skills in order to live a full and productive life.
We enjoyed our time at Erin’s House. It is obvious the we, as a community, are blessed to have this organization in our city. Like many of the organizations with which we have served, we hope that we never need to utilize the services provided. It is nice, however, knowing that Erin’s House is there if we need it. It is a special place. A place for grieving children.
What was your impact this week? What investments did you make in your community? We would love to hear from you!