For 15 years, Good Grief has provided free programming for grieving children and families, raised awareness by delivering education around childhood bereavement and the importance of building resilience in children, and empowered communities to grow from grief and adversity.
Over 750 participants from 165 communities throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania benefit from Good Grief’s Nights of Support in Morristown and Princeton centers and their Jersey City and Newark satellite locations. With a 14% growth in family enrollment last year, Good Grief is helping more families than ever. That growth is expected to double by September.
This increase in enrollment requires Good Grief to open an additional Night of Support at both their Morristown and Princeton centers. These new Nights of Support will allow for an additional 60 families in the first year and approximately 400 families over the next 5 years. Good Grief’s nationally respected, evidence-based Nights of Support program drastically decreases the risk factors associated with childhood bereavement—including toxic stress, depression, obesity, anxiety, and suicide—making program growth necessary for every community.
“The great thing about Good Grief is that you are not alone. There are multiple kids around you who understand your pain and know what you are going through. These kids become your friends – your family,” says Imani, an 11-year-old participant. Good Grief’s programs reduce isolation, teach resilience, and create a safe environment for remembering and sharing one’s grief story and developing a sense of possibility and hopefulness for the future.
Nights of Support are a peer support model for children ages 3-17, young adults ages 18-30, and their parent/guardian following the death of a parent, primary caregiver, or sibling. In age-specific peer groups, children participate in activities designed to facilitate discussion, learning, and exploration while encouraging developmentally appropriate play. In adult groups, parents and caregivers discuss topics ranging from grief, coping strategies, parenting, dating, and ongoing survival skills. Families can stay enrolled in Good Grief’s programs free-of-charge for as long as they need the program, which on average is two years.
Nights of Support groups are facilitated by trained volunteers, who are instrumental to creating a safe environment where participants can express themselves, care for each other, and rebuild their lives after devastating loss. Alyssa, a Good Grief mom participant, reflects: “I don’t think that we could have managed without Good Grief. The other participants were loving, patient, and supportive. They provided me with inspiration and hope. The facilitators were wonderful. We all benefitted from the support. We are so grateful.”
To grow Nights of Support, Good Grief is calling for 40 new volunteers to sign up to be a champion for grieving kids and families. New facilitator trainings will be held from July 26-29 in Morristown, and August 9-12 in Princeton. “As a Facilitator, I am deeply connected to the vision and mission of Good Grief. That connection stays with me outside of Good Grief – the experience has taught me to be a better listener, to know what it means to be present for someone else, and what a gift that can be to someone who is suffering from loss. Turns out it’s a gift to me too—to see the progress in my participants over time, to hear their voices get stronger. I leave each Night of Support with perspective and gratitude,” says Susan, a Good Grief volunteer.
Good Grief relies on 100% private funding to keep programs free for all grieving families. Good Grief needs to raise $200,000 to cover the costs of adding two Nights of Support.
Jeff, a Good Grief dad participant, shares about the importance of Nights of Supports for grieving families: “Since Liz passed away, Good Grief has been an amazing community for me and my son. It’s a place that lets us feel less alone in our grieving process and facilitates a strong support network for grieving families. Personally, it has helped in creating my ‘new normal’ from losing a spouse and being an only parent. Our journey is ongoing, and it is surrounded by love. I am forever grateful for those who have helped and continue to help us along the way.”
Good Grief now needs the community’s help to spread the word about their growing Nights of Support program, their rewarding opportunities for volunteers, and funds needed to help support this critically important cause. Together, we can ensure that no child ever has to grieve alone.
Good Grief is respected as a national leader in delivering grief services to children and their families. It is the leading provider of these services in New Jersey serving over 1,000 children since its founding in 2004. Good Grief is a registered 501(c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unlimited free support to children, teens and families after the death of a parent or sibling. Serving 165 communities, we operate programs in Morristown, Princeton, Jersey City, and Newark. For more information about Good Grief, please visit our web site www.good-grief.org.