Peer Support Group
At Kids’ Haven we realize that everyone grieves differently, and in their own time. For this reason, Kids' Haven groups are ongoing and open-ended. Families are able to stay with Kids’ Haven for as long as they need to actively explore their grief, with no time limits. Some children or teens may leave Kids’ Haven for a period of time and return at a later age and stage, when they have a greater understanding of death, and new questions or concerns related to their grief.
Kids’ Haven provides a place where children, teens, and their parents and guardians who have experienced a life changing death loss can come together to be part of a community. Through participation in facilitated peer groups, they find understanding, stability and support.
Any child or teen, ages 3-19, who has experienced the death of an immediate family member or very close friend can join a group. Parents and guardians are welcome to attend the adult peer support groups which are offered at the same time as the children/teen groups.
Often, family members feel the need to protect one another from their feelings. At Kids’ Haven, children and youth have their own space where they can feel safe to share their feelings with peers who have also experienced a life changing death. This expression of feelings, thoughts and experiences helps them reach an understanding of their loss and builds hope and encouragement for their future.
Our support groups are facilitated by trained grief volunteers.
- Groups are held in a welcoming, and safe environment.
- Groups meet every other week throughout the school year. Please see our calendar for our next scheduled date.
- There are separate groups offered according to age and developmental stage.
- Grief related themes are explored in the groups through games, art activities and discussion.
- Our peer groups and services are offered free of charge.
Where are the group nights held?
Kids’ Haven Group Nights currently are held in the educational spaces of St. John's Episcopal Church, as part of that church’s outreach to the community. Kids’ Haven is a non-denominational program.
Are there other rules besides confidentiality?
Besides the rules of confidentiality, the only other Kids’ Haven rule is one of respect for other participants and their feelings. Each participant is free to express any emotion being experienced—anger, despair, silliness, numbness, guilt—without discourteous reactions from other participants.
For identification purposes, each participant is asked to state his/her name and the name and cause of death of the person being grieved. Otherwise, participants may sit quietly and listen, taking part only as they wish.
Regular attendance is important for building a supportive peer group. We therefore ask families’ to commit to their group by attending regularly.
How do I know if my child needs help?
Short term signs: Nervousness, nightmares or reoccurring dreams, depression or withdrawal, hyperactivity, expressive anger or uncontrollable rages, inability to concentrate (especially in school), isolation from others, over-dependency on one person, and frequent illnesses.
Long term signs: Difficulty maintaining relationships, substance abuse, suicide, eating disorders, chronic depression, difficulty with vocational success, inability to find joy in life, and violence.
Where do I begin? How do I register for a Grief Group?
We ask that all families who are interested in joining our support group make an appointment using the form on this page. The meeting is a time to discuss the format of the evening, responsibilities of the participants and Kids' Haven and answer any questions you may have.
What does it cost to participate in Grief Groups?
Kids’ Haven is supported by gifts, grants, and fundraisers that enable us to provide grief support without any cost to participants.
How long does Kids’ Haven’s Group Grief program take to complete?
Grieving is a journey, not an event. Coming to a place of peace with your unique grief circumstances will take as long as it needs to take. Children are welcome to remain with the Kids’ Haven program for as long as they feel they continue to have grief work to do. And, for whatever reasons may make it necessary, former participants always may return to Group Night.
Are conversations at Kids’ Haven private?
What happens at Kids’ Haven stays at Kids’ Haven. Matters of confidentiality are discussed before participants attend their first group gathering, and all participants over the age of 10 are asked to make a confidentiality agreement with Kids’ Haven and with other family members. Group leaders meet after each Group Night, that they may support one another and help one another with any problems encountered. Except in that context, no participant is ever identified nor any conversation repeated outside the Group Night arena; neither child nor adult conversations are reported to other family members. The only exception to the confidentiality rules will be in the event a participant suggests intent to harm self or others. A list of professional counselors is available for referrals when it appears that Group Night support is insufficient for a family’s needs.
What if I need a support group but do not live near Kids’ Haven?
The Dougy Center – the first organization of its kind dedicated to supporting grieving children provides a listing of similar grief support centers throughout the country. Click on Center Locater from the home page at www.dougy.org
Upcoming Group Nights
Interested in joining a group?
Schedule an appointment
Anyone who would like to learn more about the groups and services at Kids’ Haven is welcome to contact us at 434.845.4072 or email@example.com. Families interested in the groups are invited for an intake visit with one of our staff. Given that grief often brings heightened anxiety, the intake process allows parents or guardians the chance to have their questions answered and decide whether a Kids’ Haven group is right for them.
Grief, in the wake of the death of a family member can be a difficult time of change and uncertainty for children, teens and their families. Often isolating, grief needs time, space, support and connections to others so that children and families can begin rebuilding their lives.