PEER-SUPPORT PROGRAM NIGHTS
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.
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. Our services are offered to families at no cost. 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.
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:
3- to 5-year-olds
6- to 9-year-olds
10- to 13-year-olds
Groups consist of between 6-9 child participants along with 2-3 volunteer facilitators. Small peer groups ensure a safe environment for each person to share his/her feelings and memories with others who have similar experiences and emotions.
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.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The evening begins at 6:30 P.M. with the families eating pizza together and celebrating birthdays. After family time, the children break into their peer-support groups. During this time, parents and guardians have the option of attending our adult group which focuses on how to support their children through the grieving process.
The peer-support groups provide age-appropriate activities for the children that encourage the exploration of grief and the feelings associated with it. Spending time in the Volcano Room and Quiet Room provides additional opportunities to process their grief in two different ways, through physical activity and through quiet reflection time.
The evening ends around 8:15 P.M. with a “closing circle”, then 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 available in Spanish upon request.