Family of Christ Learning Center in Ahwatukee has been teaming up with New Song Center for Grieving Children in efforts to assist students through the grieving process of a family member dying.

New Song Center offers a grief support for children, teens, young adults and their family caregivers.

The center also provides a grief education for caregivers, community groups, schools, clergy, medical and mental health professionals with their mission toward providing comprehensive grief education support for healing and positive social change following traumatic loss.

The group meets once a week on Tuesdays at Valley of the Hospice in Gilbert where parents and children are broken off into different groups to express their feelings on the affects of a family member dying.

Sue Nelson, director of Family of Christ, first found out about the support group a year ago when one of her student’s father died.

Seeing what her student was going through, Nelson began conducting research on different support groups across the Valley and stumbled upon New Song Center.

“It’s an awesome program,” she said.

Nelson said the school wanted to invest in the lives of children, so they decided to raise funds to be donated to support New Song Center. Nearly $1,500 was donated to the organization.

“It’s one of the only places in Arizona to minister to kids who have lost a loved one, whether it be a parent, grandparent or sibling… kids also grieve,” Nelson said. “This whole thing is free, so that’s where it becomes a great opportunity.”

The support group also gives the children freedom to express their emotions to a peer who has gone through the same turmoil, Nelson said.

“We found out that if you lose somebody the grief process is two years, and if somebody dies suddenly it takes five years. The other thing we found out is that children go in and out of grief, where an adult is kind of in it for awhile,” she said. “We are offering workshops on how to deal with grieving children.”

Through the grief workshops, parents are told to be honest about death to their child, and using the right terminology such as “died” instead of “loss” would be beneficial.

“You need to be truthful with how they died because if you’re not, all the work that you have done will count for nothing,” Nelson said. “If you’re truthful you’ll progress, if you’re not truthful you’ll have to start all over again.”

For more information about Family of Christ’s grieving workshops, visit www.focaz.com. For more information about New Song Center for Grieving Children, visit www.thenewsongcenter.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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