The Carriage House Grief Support Center
What can you do to help a child or teenager who has experienced the death of someone very close: a parent or other primary caregiver, a sister, or a brother? You can help that youngster find a safe place in which to grieve in the company of other kids who know what it’s like, because they’re grieving, too. Children’s Friend has created that safe place. It’s called The Carriage House. The Carriage House is a grief support center for kids from 3 to 18 years old and their families. It is the only program of its kind in central Massachusetts.
At The Carriage House, we believe that:
- Grief is a natural, universal experience
- When kids are grieving, the adults who love them often don’t know how to help
- Kids grieve in different ways, but that each child’s unique grief process should be respected
- Peer support is the best way to help a grieving child or teen process the emotions that follow the death of someone close
How are participants assigned to groups?
Children and teens enter age-appropriate groups after all their registration forms have been completed, as spaces become available.
When do groups meet?
The peer support groups at the Carriage House meet every other week from September to June. Sessions run for an hour and a half, except for groups of very young children, which generally last an hour and a quarter. Staff and volunteer facilitators, all of whom have been through intensive training in grief support for young people, lead the groups. While the children and teens are in their peer groups in The Carriage House, the grownups in their lives are offered adult grief support in our administration building across the street.
Is there any charge?
There is no charge for any family’s participation in The Carriage House, but everyone is invited to make a tax deductible contribution to Children’s Friend to support the work of this unique central Massachusetts program.
Volunteer facilitator training is usually provided twice a year. For information about training, please call Emily Mullen, the Carriage House Manager at (508)753-5425.
Helping kids who have experienced the death of someone close to them is a wonderful and satisfying way to make a difference. Our volunteer peer group facilitators make a big commitment: 20 hours of training, three and a half hours of their time every other week during the school year for at least a year, plus the gifts of their life experiences, their minds, and their hearts.
“Volunteering with Children’s Friend has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I started as a trained Carriage House volunteer, spending time playing with children who had lost a parent or primary caregiver. I immediately bonded with my fellow volunteers, and at once I felt that I was a valued member of Children’s Friend. My bi-weekly meetings with the group left me with much to think about and to be thankful for in my own life, but it was never depressing. What impresses me most about Children’s Friend is that everyone is a true part of the team. Everyone shares a common goal – to improve the life of a child. I truly believe that, thanks to Children’s Friend, there have been many lives improved in Central Massachusetts. I am honored to be a part of the team.” - Jen MacDonald, MD
Information and Registration
If you would like to find out more or register a child for The Carriage House, please call Children’s Friend at 508.753.5425, and ask to speak with someone about grief support. The first step in joining The Carriage House is a telephone intake, during which basic information about the family is collected. Each family is then scheduled for an orientation session at The Carriage House, so everyone can learn what it would be like to participate. If a family is interested in joining, additional paperwork has to be completed. Families are then assigned to groups as space becomes available.