I walked into their building, and it instantly took my breath away—it was not what I was expecting. Inside, the Children’s Bereavement Center is a home. The first thing you see is a long banquet table able to sit 20+ people. Behind that is the most beautiful living room, bright with vibrant furniture and natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows. I felt like a royal guest, like someone carefully prepared for my coming. My heart thought, “Did they do this for me?” The answer is yes. They did do this for me and for you—for everyone who walks in their doors. And even more, they have done it for families and children who have experienced the devastation of a loss in their family.
Every detail in the Children’s Bereavement Center is purposeful.
From the interior decorations to the homelike setting, the message is: this is a place of peace. Families can come here and, in the depths of grief, feel a sense of rest. Each room in the Center is designed to meet an individual child, wherever they are in their grief process, and equip them with tools and activities to begin the path to healing. Each room incorporates different therapeutic activities: play, narrative, art, music, poetry, journaling, mediation, guided imagery, dance/movement, and recreation.
As you walk through, you recognize this place is wholesome.
One room is named “Rumpus”, and it is a room with padded walls and stuffed figures, made for a child to cry out in commotion. Another room is filled with sand trays and figurines. And another with broken, colorful glass and a glass kiln. One has magazines, simply so children can rip out certain pages and glue them on card stock. While children can have a hard time verbally processing their emotions, these sensory activities help them communicate and process.
At the end of one magical hallway—painted purposefully beginning with a dark, starry sky that slowly transforms into a bright, cloud-less day—is a theater where children can put on plays and puppet shows. In the middle of this room is a gigantic tree that is colorful and animated. In this room is also a time machine where a child can enter in any previous date and stay in the time machine as long as they want, imaginarily speaking to whomever they want.
- Beyond Illness (death due to chronic illness)
- Beyond Sudden Death (unanticipated date)
- Beyond Violence (death by homicide)
- Beyond Self Hurt (death by suicide)
- Sibling Group (children who’ve lost a sister or brother)
- Beyond Family (death of grandparent, extended family members, or friend)
- Little Hearts (children 3-5 years old)
- Teens Take on Grief (monthly gatherings)
Among the rooms of the Children’s Bereavement Center are free therapy sessions for children and surviving adults with licensed counselors.
To be a part of the path to healing, you do not have to be a licensed counselor.
There are several ways to serve these families and their children. If you are 18 or older you can become a trained support group facilitator. As a facilitator, you’d participate with children in the various therapeutic activities. Another way to serve is to prepare and serve a dinner to a Peer Support Group and their facilitators as a Potluck Partner. You can do this with friends and/or family, at any age. The size of group can range from 20-70 people. A meal is served nightly for these Groups Sunday-Friday. The Center also has an online Wish List of donated items needed to equip their therapeutic activities. You can also join as Friends of the CBCST, a membership based alliance that helps increase community awareness and provide joyful activities and events for the children and their families. And because the Children’s Bereavement Center is a non-profit, 501(c)3, offering all of these services for free to grieving children and their families, their ability to fulfill their mission is dependent on the community giving financially.