The Power of Peer Support
Because grief can often cause children to feel isolated and different from their friends, peer support in itself helps children in the grieving process. Knowing that they are not alone, weird or crazy for their thoughts and feelings helps children cope in this strange new world that is missing someone they love.
Small peer groups also ensure a safe environment for each person to share his or her feelings and memories with others who have similar experiences and emotions.
Erin’s House provides bimonthly peer support groups for children ages 3–30 who have experienced the death of a loved one. These groups are divided by developmental ages into 3–5-year-olds, 6–9-year-olds, 10–13-year-olds, teens and young adults.
Groups consist of between 6–9 child participants and 2–3 volunteer facilitators.
Our program is a preventative one which helps to alleviate and eliminate the negative consequences of unresolved grief within our community. Our programming accomplishes the following:
- Minimizes the negative consequences of unresolved grief such as truancy, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, distrust and inability to form significant relationships. Prevents misinterpretation of the behaviors of grieving children by educating parents/caregivers. We provide the adults present in the lives of grieving children with information and tools that help to facilitate the grieving process at home and/or school.
- Allows for the normalization of the changes and effects of grief by providing the children an understanding of themselves and their feelings as well as communication and coping skills that will last a lifetime.
- Enhances the child or teen’s well-being throughout their grief journey and their development into adulthood.
- Diminishes the financial burden that most families experience when seeking such services.
Bi-monthly Peer Support Program Nights
Our bi-monthly Peer Support Program Nights provide grieving children the opportunity to be surrounded by others also suffering the death of a loved one, helping them feel a sense of belonging and respect. Erin’s House is unique in that our programming is open-ended, that is, each child determines when he/she is ready to leave; there is no time limit on grief.
After eating dinner together as a family and celebrating birthdays, the children participate in age-appropriate activities with their peers, which encourages the exploration of grief and the feelings associated with it. Spending time in the “Volcano” and “Quiet” Rooms provides additional opportunities to process their grief in two different ways, through physical activity and through quiet reflection time. The evening ends with a “closing circle” and the children head off into their worlds with a little more confidence and a bit more peace. Having had the opportunity to express fear, sadness, anger or to simply play and forget that they are a grieving family, these children experience a change in their lives each time they step into Erin’s House, and each time they leave.
Programming also available in Spanish.