providing support to grieving children, teens and their families
What we do and why we do it
Here at the Willow Center for Grieving Children we provide support to children, teens, and their families who are grieving the death of a loved one.
At Willow Center, we are a non-profit, charitable organization, that provides supports groups and resources for children and teens free of charge. Our program is designed to provide a caring, accepting environment that greatly enriches the healing process by allowing children and families to share their grief with others who have had comparable loss.
The support groups at Willow Center are coordinated by behavioral health professionals and trained volunteers and currently meet twice a month - year round. Groups are delineated by age with concurrent support groups available for the adult caregivers/parents of the children that are attending. Upon referral to the center, an intake appointment is scheduled to get information about the child(ren), family, circumstances of the death, and to provide information/details about the program.
We currently serve the Lewis and Clark Valley and surrounding areas, but also have families coming from around the region, including: Pullman, Orofino, Cottonwood, and even as far away as Riggins. Willow Center is the only organization between Boise and Spokane that is dedicated to serving the needs of grieving children, teens and their families in a free of charge, on-going open ended, support group format modeled on best practices and the assumption no two children grieve the same
A safe place for kids, teens and their caregivers to share their experience of grief
At Willow Center, children and teens are joined by other kids their age that have also experienced a death. Through activities that support expression of feelings and emotions, they are able to interact together to help increase their understanding of death, loss, the process of grief and also decrease feelings of isolation associated with grief. Our program is family focused with the belief that to truly assist the children and teens in their process of grief, we need to engage the family/caregivers in a supportive way to build healthier coping, communication and connections for the whole family.
Successful programs built on research
Our programs were originally modeled after the nationally acclaimed Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon. They have conducted research which has proven that this model is successful in facilitating grief and healing in children, teens and families. It is a well known fact that bereaved children are a vulnerable population, and at risk of developing psychological, behavioral and social difficulties and dysfunction. If left unattended, grief in children can lead to depression, psychiatric problems and possible suicide as adults (Ayyash-Abdo, 2001). It has been shown through years of research, that children who receive group support within one year of a significant loss in their lives demonstrate a significant decrease in overall negative emotions than children who receive no support. There is also a decrease in depression and behavioral disturbances (Tonkins and Lambert, 1996). We have received positive feedback from teachers and caregivers of the progress children have made while attending our support groups. The biggest driver of success in coping with death is having group support!