Providence Hospice of the Gorge helps children express grief through play

October 05, 2012
HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Once protected by the reality of death, children are now being encouraged to participate in the grieving process according to a recent article published in The New York Times, Letting Children Share in Grief.

Locally, children have an outlet to express their grief as well. Providence Hospice of the Gorge offers ongoing grief support groups for children and teens. "Our Gorge grief groups help children, teens and their families grieve in a healthy and natural way by offering meaningful play, expressive arts and shared circle time,” says Colleen Ballinger, founder of the Providence hospice youth grief groups.

The groups are free of charge and run September through May from 6 to 7 p.m., every other Thursday at the Riverside Community Church in Hood River. Pizza is provided by Papa Murphy’s and, if needed, gas cards are available to cover the expense of travel to and from the groups.

“My mantra with children and teens is that they need truth, choices, and connection," says Gwen Thomas, clinical coordinator for Providence Hospice of the Gorge. “The truth allows them to understand what's been lost and begin the grieving process. Choices give them some amount of control in a world that may feel uncertain, and engaging with kids their own age allows them to feel connected. That's where our groups come in."

These groups are open and on-going and referrals are welcome throughout the school year. Additional information and resources including pamphlets on helping grieving students and understanding their needs in funeral planning are also available. To attend an upcoming group or to get more information, please call Providence Hospice of the Gorge, 541-387-6449.