Purdue program to help families deal with grief
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Families who have lost a loved one can find help in their grief process through a Purdue University program.
The BRIDGe, which stands for By Remembering I Develop and Grow, was developed in 2006 by Heather Servaty-Seib, an associate professor of educational studies in the College of Education who is a counseling psychologist and specializes in grief and bereavement. The program is a collaboration between the Purdue College of Education and Tippecanoe School Corp.
The BRIDGe allows bereaved families with children in kindergarten through high school to connect with other grieving families and share their stories. The next session will meet weekly from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 23 through April 27 at Klondike Elementary School in West Lafayette.
Servaty-Seib said families that benefit most are at least two months away from their death loss so that the initial shock of the experience is lessened.
"The biggest success for me has been the fact that the families within each session continue to keep in touch with one another," Servaty-Seib said. "The mothers will meet for coffee or lunch and get their kids together to play. It means a lot that they have continued the connection that the BRIDGe allowed them to build with each other."
The program is free and open to any family willing to meet weekly. Each evening will begin with a meal followed by support group meetings by age group. Simultaneous groups are held for children ages 5-8, 9-12 and 13-18, and parents/caregivers.
The BRIDGe program:
* Provides bereaved families with opportunities to connect with, receive support from and offer support to other bereaved families
* Encourages family members to talk openly with each other about their grief and about their loved one who died.
* Offers information about grief, including how children and teenagers grieve differently than adults.
* Utilizes activities to help bereaved children, teenagers and adults learn more about their grief.
As a part of the group sessions, children and teenagers engage in a variety of craft activities such as making collages, writing poetry and decorating a memory pillow. For adults, the focus is on discussing their thoughts and feelings and learning ideas for parenting grieving children.
Servaty-Seib said the BRIDGe offers a welcoming environment for children who have suffered a loss. Often, these children are afraid of being perceived as different, so connecting with other grieving children helps them realize that they are not alone, she said.
Graduate students enrolled in the College of Education's counseling programs facilitate the sessions. They have received special training in grief and bereavement and are supervised by licensed counselors.
Children or teenagers attending the program must be accompanied by at least one parent or caregiver who will attend the adult group. Child care will be provided for children under age 5.
All families participate in an initial meeting with one of the BRIDGe staff in which background information is obtained and more details about the program are provided.
Interested families can contact Servaty-Seib at 765-494-9738, email@example.com.
Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Heather Servaty-Seib, 765-494-9738, email@example.com