Grief is an overwhelming, complex and personal emotion. It’s natural, but is unique to each person. We all cope differently, and while there is no prescribed process, there are therapies that over time have shown to be effective helping individuals coping with death or life-altering illness. Grieving can be especially hard for children and adolescents.
Imagine, a Center for Coping with Loss (“Imagine”), has a mission to provide support for children, young adults and families dealing with the death or life-altering illness of a parent, sibling or child. Founded in 2011 by Mary Robinson, the idea of Imagine was born 40 years earlier when after the death of her father, Mary received the following note from a neighbor:
“Dear Mary, I am so sorry for your great loss. I always think unhappy times are the hardest for young people to bear. But I think they have a way of making one grow up with a lot more compassion. The thing that helps me feel better when I’m sad is to think that nothing – feelings or situations – good or bad, last forever. Take Care. Sincerely, Eleanor Schenck.”
Mary held onto this note and in her own words, “it gave me hope that something good could come out of something so incomprehensible and painful.” What the note said to Mary was that her loss was seen, it mattered and her sadness won’t last forever. The messages in the note are timeless and they form the core of Mary’s beliefs of what grieving children need from adults – love, time, attention and optimism.
Imagine operates free peer grief support groups for children and teens and also provides support for the parent or guardian of youth attending. In addition to peer support groups, Imagine also uses the healing arts (paint, music, writing, clay,) physical play and movement, service to others and community gatherings. Peer support groups are led by trained adult and teen volunteers and are available year-round (except during July and August). Imagine is free of charge for all participants and available as long as it is needed. The organization is solely privately funded.
Imagine, located in Mountainside, is one of the finalist in the Sue Adler Team’s 100th Home Sale Program. To place you vote click here.
To learn more about Imagine, visit their website at https://www.imaginenj.org