Recognizing the growing number of grieving children in San Diego County and Riverside County, the Elizabeth Hospice is expanding its comprehensive offering of children’s bereavement services to include an additional Children’s Bereavement Center in Escondido.
The Center will open in late January. This child-focused environment features themed rooms – a mock hospital room, big energy area, as well as creative writing room and more ‒ where children can process their grief. Services are offered free-of-charge and are open to all in the community, regardless of their affiliation with The Elizabeth Hospice.
This new Center, located at 930 Canterbury Place in Escondido, will offer support groups for Littles (ages 3 to 6), Elementary Age (ages 6 to 12), Middles (ages 11 to 13) and Teens (ages 13 to 17). Parents or guardians meet in an adult group concurrently. Groups are held bi-monthly. Interested parents can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-797-2050.
The Elizabeth Hospice’s Children Bereavement Program, is overseen by Melissa Lunardini, MA, children’s bereavement manager. As the most comprehensive offering in the community, the program includes school-based support groups in 15 school districts, peer grief support groups in Mission Valley and Escondido, Camp Erin ® San Diego, crisis intervention, and one-on-one counseling.
“Children’s bereavement is more prevalent than many people realize,” said Jan Jones, president and CEO of The Elizabeth Hospice. “One in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. Grieving children are at risk for depression, anxiety and isolation which often lead to poor school attendance, lowered academic achievement, behavioral problems, substance abuse, incarceration and suicide. If their grief is addressed early, we can decrease the risk of engagement in maladaptive lifestyle choices that could negatively impact the rest of their lives.”
“Many children and teens feel that the adults in their lives often misinterpret their grief,” said Melissa Lunardini. “By attending a program where children and teens are with peers who are experiencing a similar loss, their sense of isolation disappears. Their understanding of death and their coping skills expand. And they learn what it means to heal after loss.”
The Elizabeth Hospice (elizabethhospice.org) is the region’s most experienced and largest nonprofit hospice and palliative care provider of medical, emotional and spiritual support to the seriously ill and their families in San Diego and the Inland Empire. To learn more, call 800-797-2050 or visit online at www.elizabethhospice.org