Fernside: A Center for Grieving Children
Recently I had the privilege of spending the morning with Katie Beurket, who is a program coordinator for Fernside. In short, Fernside is a grief center for children. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s probably because you’ve not needed bereavement support for a child in your life. They are a resource you don’t realize you need until you do.
Katie was kind enough to show me around their center. There is beauty everywhere you look, but when you look closer, you see that beauty was created out of children grieving the loss of a loved one. I work with traumatic loss every day in my practice, so pain, processing, and post-traumatic growth are processes I wholeheartedly respect and encourage. Unfortunately, there is no way to fast-forward the grief process. When you’re in it, you’re in it. There is no avoiding it. Avoiding it might seem like a tempting option, but it doesn’t work in the long run. You can, however, engage in the grief process and find connection and support while navigating through it.
Death is something our culture does not handle well.
We use phrases like, “he passed away” or “she’s in a better place” to soften the finality of death. As adults, we can read the subtext here, though it is still difficult to reconcile with the strong emotions of grief, loss, anger, relief, etc. that are often happening concurrently. For children, this lack of clear communication can add an extra layer of fear and uncertainty to a situation that is already difficult. Using words such as “dead” and “died” can feel harsh because that is how we’ve been conditioned to think. However, they are factual and concrete and can help children start to understand the finality of death, and what makes death different than sleeping, leaving, or being ill. We can explain this in a way that allows children (and ourselves) to start to grasp permanence. This is painful but it also allows for the grief process to begin.
Fernside is a center that feels happy, clean, organized, and open.
It’s a place where big emotions are felt, tough conversations are had, and tears are shed. It is also a place for meaningful connection, acceptance, expression, and love. Fernside is an absolute gift to our community, and the work they do is absolutely profound.
Death is a confusing time for children.
Death happens every day, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy to process or grieve the loss of a loved one. For children, it can be a very confusing time, and often adults in their lives are not sure how to support them through their grief, often while grieving themselves.
I wanted to share some information about Fernside to familiarize you with its center, its programs, and its mission. It is a beautiful place that does such meaningful work. As a trauma therapist, I recommend their services often.
Katie and I got to talk to someone about Fernside and the services offered. Here are some Q & As I sent her way to share with you! A special thank you to Vicky Ott, Fernside’s Executive Director, for her help with these answers as well.
Q: Katie, tell us a little about you and how you came to work for Fernside.
A: I came to Fernside when I was 14 years old after the sudden death of my dad. My family attended the program and soon after attending I became a PIT (Philanthropists in Training) Crew volunteer. When I was in college I would volunteer in the summers and shortly after graduation, I completed facilitator training in the fall of 2017. In the late summer of 2020, a position opened up, and I knew I had to apply. I joined the staff in January 2021. Fernside has made a lifelong impact on me as a participant, volunteer, and now staff member. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to serve grieving children and families in our community and give back to an organization that helped me and my family so much.
Q: Who does your Center serve? Are there criteria that need to be met?
A: Fernside serves children ages 3-18 who are grieving the death of a family member or friend. We also offer support groups for the parents/guardians of the children participating in our Evening Program.
Q: What are some of the programs that you offer?
A: Our Evening Program offers twice-monthly support groups in five locations in our community. Children and teens are divided into groups with others close to their age while their parents/guardians meet with each other at the same time. Trained volunteer facilitators address themes such as telling your story, feelings, changes & rebuilding, and memories through expressive arts, games, music, and group discussion.
Our School Program offers time-limited groups, on-site, during the school day, at area elementary, middle, and high schools.
In addition, our Crisis Program provides support to schools and other organizations following a death.
Our Special Collaboration Program serves children and adults with special needs or in special settings. We collaborate with schools and social service agencies to ensure grief support is available and accessible to everyone in our community.
Our Camp Program includes an annual summer camp for children ages 7-12 and a springtime retreat for teens ages 13-18.
We also provide information about our history and services as well as presentations on a variety of grief-related topics through our Community Outreach Program.
Q: What are the costs associated with your program?
A: We are proud to say that there is no charge for any of the services we provide!
Q: What else do you want people to know about Fernside?
A: That all of our services are able to be provided at no cost due to the generosity of our community. If you are a donor reading this blog, thank you! And if you would like to help support our services or become a volunteer, visit our website www.fernside.org.
Learn More About Fernside and Their Mission
To learn more, please go to their website at https://fernside.org/. Here, you can find more information about programs, services, and other resources such as recommended readings.
I am thankful for Fernside and all they provide.
Get Started with Online Therapy in Ohio & Kentucky
As much as it may feel like it, you are not alone. Hope and healing are possible. As a specialized PTSD clinician with years of experience, I have seen people rise up from trauma and grief with peace and healing. Living an authentic, fulfilled life is attainable! My therapy practice is located in Ohio, but we can work with anyone in the state of Ohio or Kentucky using online therapy. Follow the steps below to get started.
- Reach out to me by scheduling a 15-minute video consultation.
- Meet with me to see if Thrive is a good fit for your therapy needs.
- Start healing from your past and creating a fuller future.