GREENWICH, Conn. – Linda Weatherseed, coordinator of a Greenwich support group for families coping with the death of loved ones, noticed that language barriers prevented Spanish-speaking parents of English-speaking children from getting the support they needed during group meetings. So next week, the program will begin to offer a Spanish-language support group for adults.
“The Hispanic population is growing rapidly, and we feel all people should have an opportunity to get support,” said Weatherseed. “There aren’t many facilities for Spanish-speaking adults.”
The Den for Grieving Kids is one of the programs offered by Family Centers of Greenwich. It provides a safe, caring place for children, teens and families to explore their feelings of loss with other families and offer practical advice. Student support groups are also offered at schools across Fairfield and Westchester counties. About 45 families currently take part in the program.
“New families can see other families who are at different stages of the grieving process, while continuing families can look at the new families and measure how far they’ve come,” said Weatherseed. “It’s mutually beneficial.”
The new group, starting Feb. 22, will be led by trained bilingual volunteers who will guide Spanish-speaking adults to speak openly about how the loss of loved ones has affected their lives and the lives of their children.
“It offers a way for families to express themselves much more easily in their native language,” said Weatherseed. “The cultural aspect is important too because there are different social mores about death and dying. To be with others of the same ethnicity is very supportive."
While adults meet, their children can join one of four groups of kids depending on their age. Kids are encouraged to create memory boxes where they can put photographs, mementos and letters to remind them of the person they lost. “The emphasis is on commemorating that loss,” said Weatherseed. “Children are often concerned they will forget the person, and this helps them remember.”
When Tara Fleck’s first daughter was delivered stillborn, she said she and her husband knew they needed to do something to cope with their grief. After an extensive search, they found the Den for Grieving Kids.
“It was comforting to be around other parents who have lost a child. But the most beneficial aspect was the fact that everyone was at different stages of their grief and showed us that life can go on,” Fleck said in a statement.
Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. twice a month on Wednesdays at Family Centers’ Greenwich offices at 40 Arch St. Dinner is provided, and the program is free.
Interested families should call Weatherseed at 203-655-4693 or email to set up an intake appointment.