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NHS Offering Student Grief Support Group

The school-based program is being made available with partnership from The Children's Room.

Needham High School is now offering a Grief Support Group for students who are dealing with the loss of a parent or sibling—partnering with a state-wide nonprofit organization, The Children's Room, to offer the school-based program.

Below is an email sent out early this week to Needham parents by Tom Denton, LICSW, NPS Director of Guidance:

Dear Parents,

We are pleased to be offering a Grief Support Group for our students who are dealing with the loss of a parent or sibling. Needham High School (NHS) is partnering with The Children’s Room (TCR) to offer a school-based grief support group program this academic year. 

The Children’s Room is a non-profit organization in Massachusetts dedicated to supporting families who have suffered the loss of a parent or sibling. Utilizing a peer support model, The Children’s Room provides a safe and caring environment that enables families to find community and connection as they explore the complexities of grief and go on living fully. For the past 3 years, TCR has been working with other high schools in the area to provide in-school support services to children and teens who may not otherwise have access to their services. 

These school based groups provide a safe, non-judgmental space for grieving teens to connect with peers and receive support around the death of a parent or sibling. Topics covered in the group include normalizing grief reactions, identifying emotions, developing coping strategies, recognizing and commemorating special days and preserving memories of the person who has died.

The groups meet every two to three weeks during the last block of the day and are facilitated by a clinical staff member from TCR as well as Jen Roberts, a NHS social worker/counselor.

Please see the attachment “Frequently Asked Questions for Parents” [pasted below] for more information. If you have any additional questions, or would like your son or daughter to join the group please don’t hesitate to contact Jen Roberts at jennifer_roberts@needham.k12.ma.us or 781-455-0800 ext 2150.

Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 1:45 p.m. we will be offering an orientation for student's interested in finding out more about the group.  Please encourage your son or daughter to attend the meeting, which will be held in the Guidance Conference Room, to find out if the group will be a good match for him/her.

Frequently Asked Questions – For Parents

What are the benefits of my child/teen participating in this group?
Helps to normalize the grieving process Provides a safe space for students to connect with others who “get it” Decreases sense of isolation that can come with loss

Why is this kind of group needed? Why is it being held at the school?
After a death the family system can be overly stressed and children/teens often worry about burdening their parents by going to them for support.   For grieving children and teens, resuming normal life following loss demands successfully navigating the school day. For many, this task becomes harder. School is a non-threatening environment, and support services through a school are often more accessible for teens than ones through community agencies Without support grieving children and teens often experience a drop in grades, difficulty concentrating, isolation from peers, risky/unhealthy behaviors, truancy, fighting or an over decline in caring about school performance

Why should my child miss valuable instructional time for this?
All students participating in this group will be responsible for making up any missed work. Have a supportive space to talk about their loss helps refocus children and teens on their school work.

Is there a cost for my child/teen to participate in the group?
Aside from a place to meet on school grounds – there is no additional cost to the school or to families.

What will my child/teen do or talk about in the group?
Topics in group will depend on the needs of the students in each particular school. Below are some general themes that we cover and present in school groups. Connecting with each other Sharing our stories/memories Feelings and emotions associated with our losses Coping with tough days (mother’s day/ anniversaries/ holidays / etc.) Celebrating and honoring the people who have died—continuing on as we remember them.

Is this the same as Therapy?
NO! This group is more of a peer support group and a place where children/teen can connect with each other, share memories, engage in fun activities, laugh, talk and share food!

What if the death happened a long time ago or if my child/teen does not seem upset about it? No matter when the person died or how well you feel like your child/teen is coping, they are welcome as a part of this group. The group is not a place only for those who have experienced a recent loss, nor is it solely a group for students who are struggling with their loss. This group is a safe place for teens to share tears and sadness but also a place to share our strengths, hopefulness and memories as we continue to go on living fully.

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