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 method, each group begins it’s 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 our 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 130 students in two local school districts.