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Overview

The Center for HOPE (Healing, Opportunity, Perseverance, Enlightenment) provides a place where children and families can come together in their journey of grief. We offer programs to meet the needs of the entire family—providing support and help to bereaved children, adolescents and parents through developmentally age-appropriate groups and short term counseling. These groups are facilitated by certified social workers and compassionate trained volunteers and are provided free of charge.

There are several groups available, including:

  • Groups for children ages 4-18 who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling
  • Groups for parents who have experienced the death of a child
  • Groups for parents who have experienced perinatal losses

For more information, please call the Center for HOPE at (516) 216-5194.

Children and grief

The way a child understands death varies according to their age and developmental level. As a child grows and develops, he or she increases their understanding of death and may have new questions about a loss they have experienced. Some children might experience a delayed reaction while others respond immediately. Children, especially young ones, don't have the language to put their thoughts and feelings into words and may often express their grief in physical and/ or behavioral ways. Children may also grieve “in spurts,” as they are unable to tolerate grief for long periods of time.

It may be very difficult for grieving parents to find the strength to help their other children, especially in the first weeks after their loss. Children often withhold their feelings because they think that talking about the death will cause pain to others. But children need to know that their grief is normal, and they need to express what they're feeling. You may want to ask other adults in your circle of family and friends to assist and support you during this time of pain and sorrow.

Here are some ways adults can provide children with opportunities to release feelings:

  • Rituals such as candle lighting and praying
  • Artistic expression such as drawing a picture of how you feel
  • Sharing memories/stories and crying together
  • Allowing your children to teach you about their experience of grief and giving them permission to let you know what they need
  • Reiterating that grief is a normal way of coping with a devastating loss

Consider reaching out for additional help and support if a child is exhibiting any of these reactions, especially if they are persistent and ongoing:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal or very passive behavior
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Prolonged periods of weeping
  • Changes in school grades
  • Symptoms associated with the illness or injury of the deceased
  • Repeated expressions of guilt or fear

How you can help

Our services are provided free of charge, so that all grieving children and their families can benefit from this valuable program. We depend on support from foundations, companies and schools, as well as individuals and families.

You can make a donation here.

If you would like to volunteer at the Center for HOPE, please contact Susan Thomas at (516) 216-5194.

Resources

Below are some helpful books when dealing with loss and grief.

Recommended for children ages 4-7:

  • Everette Anderson's Goodbye - by Lucille Clifton
  • Where's Jess? - by J and M. Johnson with the Goldsteins
  • About Dying - by Sara Bennet Stein

Recommended for children ages 5-8:

  • When Dinosaurs Die : A Guide to Understanding Death - by L.K. Brown & M. Brown
  • Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children - by Bryan Mellonie, Robert Ingpen
  • Gentle Willow : A Story for Children About Dying - by Joyce C. Mills
  • Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope - by Donna O'Toole
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney - by Judy Voirst

Recommended for children ages 8-11:

  • The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story for All Ages - by Leo Buscaglia
  • How It Feels When a Parent Dies - by Jill Krementz
  • Am I Still A Sister? - by Alicia M. Sims
  • The Saddest Time - by Norma Simon
  • The Brightest Star - by Kathleen Maresh Hemery

Recommended for teenagers:

  • Death is Hard to Live With - by Janet Bode
  • Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers - by Earl Grollman
  • Learning to Say Good-Bye - by Edna LeShan
  • Facing Change: A Book about Loss and Change for Teens - by Donna O'Toole
  • Healing a Teen's Grieving Heart - by Alan Wolfelt

Recommended for adults who lost a child:

  • A Child Dies: A Portrait of Family Grief - by Joan Hagan Arnold and Penelope Buschman Gemma
  • When Goodbye is Forever: Learning to Live Again After the Loss of a Child - by John Bramblett
  • How to Survive the Loss of a Child - by Catherine Sanders
  • The Bereaved Parent - by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff
  • Healing a Parent's Grieving Heart - by Alan Wolfelt
  • The Death of a Child - by Elaine Stillwell

Recommended for adults experiencing perinatal loss:

  • Facing Death, Finding Love - by Dawson Church
  • Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby - by Deboray L. Davis
  • Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses - by Cladia Panuthis and Catherine Romeo

Recommended for adults guiding their children through grief:

  • Guiding your Child Through Grief - by Mary Ann Emswiler and James Emswiler
  • The Grieving Child: A Parent's Guide - by Helen Fitzgerald
  • Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parents and Child - by Earl A. Grollman
  • How Do We Tell the Children? A Step-by-Step Guide for Helping Children, Two to Teen, Cope When Someone Dies - by Dan Schaefer and Christine Lyons