Several times throughout the year, Collin County Moms features a local non-profit organization that assists moms and/or families in need. We love the opportunity to spotlight how local families can help out through volunteering, donating time or money and more, right in our own community. We try to pick organizations that our contributors know and volunteer for personally, and are eager to share the needs of our friends and neighbors throughout Collin County.
“It’s nice to talk to other kids who understand what I’m going through”
I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I had been longing to hear these words from my oldest daughter, Kate. When her dad died a few months before, she had shut down. She’d just turned 10…in style. We celebrated with a home fashion show and photo shoot with all her friends, a sleepover, all the “normal” things she had grown accustomed to in her “normal” suburban life.
Then, in a moment, everything changed. She became “the girl whose dad died.” No one knew what to say to her. Her friends didn’t know how to act around her. She’d gone from cheerful and outgoing to reserved and unsure. I was worried.
Enter Journey of Hope
For adults, coping with the loss of a loved one can feel like a day-to-day rollercoaster ride of physical symptoms and psychological emotions. Imagine how much harder it is on kids. At Journey of Hope, kids and teens are not alone.
Journey of Hope Grief Support Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing group grief support to children, teens, and their parents or adult caregivers. In groups with other kids their own age going through similar circumstances, kids and teens share special memories and talk about their loved one in a nonjudgmental, confidential, and caring setting.
How it Works
When families arrive at Journey of Hope Support Group meetings, first, they eat. Volunteers provide and serve a meal, as well as assist parents with getting their families fed. Words cannot express what a welcomed support this is. When we first started the program, my kids were 10, 4, and 1. There were days I. just. couldn’t. But I always had Tuesday nights to look forward to. I knew I wouldn’t have to think about cooking or cleaning up, and I knew my kids had a few precious hours where they could laugh and have fun as part of their healing journey.
This meant THE WORLD to us.
After the meal, kids are dismissed to their groups by age and grade. While the kids meet in their rooms, adults and caregivers gather to express their own grief, discuss coping skills, and brainstorm ways to help their children navigate their journey of loss.
From weekly meetings to special events like Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and the annual 5K Walk of Remembrance, Journey of Hope offers these completely free services to families in a warm, caring, and nurturing environment.
Hope for the Journey
Journey of Hope uses a peer group model for facilitation. Trained volunteer group facilitators lead participants in their personal journey toward healing and healthy grief reconciliation. Facilitators pass a background check and participate in extensive training about bereavement, typical grief emotions and concerns for all ages, and strategies to lead peer grief support groups. Licensed mental health professionals oversee all facilitators.
Facilitators have diverse backgrounds, including mental health professionals, educators, Bachelor’s or Master’s level students, and most all have experienced the death of a loved one themselves. Using their own personal experiences, facilitators help kids with healthy coping mechanisms in a supportive setting that allows children to understand loss and grief as a natural part life and focus on finding a “new normal”.
Groups are open-ended so families can join at any point in their grief process. They may stay as long as they deem necessary. Additionally, like our family did, they can return anytime the support is needed. There’s no timeline for grief.
As a Journey of Hope alumni family who can testify to the invaluable long-term benefits this organization provides, I encourage you to support this organization in any of the following ways:
Participate: Journey of Hope relies on kind, caring, and nurturing people like you to make a difference in the lives of the families they serve. By volunteering, you make this program possible.
Advocate: Like. Follow. and Share this information with others. I found out about Journey of Hope when a thoughtful neighbor left a note of support and a program flyer in my mailbox. It changed everything. You could be that change in someone else’s family. Trust me, it makes a world of difference.