The purpose of the Friendly Hearts Club program is:
To educate students about grief issues in a creative manner
To provide students a supportive environment to talk about grief
To allow students to interact with peers with similar grief experiences
To provide methods to cope with trauma and loss
The Friendly Hearts Club (FHC) experience is unique to each group. Some groups enjoy open discussion as their primary way of processing their grief. Other groups are fond of creating art or writing as a way of sorting through their experience. Regardless of the method, each group begins its session with a check-in or short mindfulness practice. Each centering activity creates awareness of our time in group. Every session has a topic of discussion that relates to loss or grief. One of the most vital session topics happens in session two, which is “telling your story”. This is a way for all participants to listen to others’ stories, as well as to tell their own. This might be the first time for some group members to verbalize what the day of their person’s death felt like to them.
Other important themes for discussion are identifying and coping with feelings, unfinished business, changes after someone dies and memories. Some art modalities we explore are creating memory boxes, designing a “mask of grief”, journaling, writing letters to their loved ones, playing their loved one’s favorite music and many more. Every child receives a light snack and drink. And, as a culminating experience for our groups we have enjoyed balloon and bubble releases, poem readings and end of group pizza parties. Every participant also receives a small gift for their involvement. Some testimonies of group members are: “I know I’m not alone”, “my favorite part of group was talking about my feelings”, and I loved learning how to cope with the death.” Overall, our program has provided support to over 250 students in two local school districts.
Grief Journeys companions adults over the age of twenty-five through grief and loss in a supportive environment. We recognize that each griever’s journey is as unique as each individual. Groups meet once a week for eight consecutive weeks. The books and journals by Alan Wolfelt called, “Understanding Your Grief” are utilized for groups discussions. These materials are free to the participant.
The Luke William Hahn Foundation began its first adult grief program in 2012 offering support to the members of the Slate Belt communities. Since that time, we have expanded our services to include neighboring communities, as well. Our Grief Journeys program utilizes the curriculum written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a renowned expert and speaker on grief and loss. We use the book, “Understanding Your Grief” and its accompanying journal to walk each member through the grief process in an informative yet compassionate way. The Grief Journeys program is offered to anyone experiencing a physical loss; this includes the loss of a spouse, child, family member or friend. Through the Grief Journeys program, adults in the community and beyond have benefitted from shared discussion, journaling opportunities, and a sense of connectivity to others in a group setting. The support that is created in adult groups is truly vital in the success of its mission – which is to provide a place of comfort, healing, and hope to all its members. Our hope is that Grief Journeys does this and more.
The H.O.P.E for Young Adults program (Healing Our Pain through Empathy) is a new initiative started in 2017 to bridge the gap between school-aged students and adulthood. The need for grief support for this age group was apparent to our organization. The H.O.P.E. for Young Adults program is specifically for the eighteen to twenty-five-year-old age group, is free of charge, and supports members for eight weeks.