It isn’t easy to help children understand the complex feelings that arise when someone dies. But the conversations — and emotions — become especially tough to process when they involve the death of another child. In a column earlier this month for the Commercial Appeal, Memphis reporter Tonyaa Weathersbee explored the challenge of helping children comprehend the accidental or violent death of a friend. She spoke to Molly Nelson, director of the Universal Parenting Place at Perea School and one of the organizers behind a program offering counseling to parents, teens, and children dealing with any kind of grief.
Nelson first worked with partners from Whole Child Strategies, the Klondike Smokey City Neighborhood Council, Church Health, and the KSC Community Development Corporation last August to launch the community grief group. Because it was so popular with neighborhood residents, they decided to host a second round of sessions — and hope to meet even more North Memphis residents. Nelson also led Coffee & Conversation with Sesame Street in Communities, a six-week series held at the Universal Parenting Place at Perea School late last year to help parents learn how to talk to their young children about tough issues such as managing emotions, coping with parental incarceration, and dealing with grief.
Held at Friendship Baptist Church in North Memphis, the six-week grief counseling series will commence on Monday, February 24, 3:30-5:30 pm, and run weekly through March 30. Nelson encouraged anyone dealing with loss to attend. There will be grief support available for children and teens, as well as child care for children not participating in the group.
What’s most important, Nelson told Weathersbee, is that grieving kids are given positive ways to express themselves and connect with others: “We can talk about the memory of the person, and we can create space in the community to talk about it, so that we don’t grieve in isolation.”
For more information on the program, visit the Universal Parenting Places Facebook page.