Offering Education & Support: Our Parenting While Grieving Series

When a spouse or partner dies, the surviving parent is trying to navigate his or her own grief, while at the same time raise children and teens who are also grieving. Research has consistently shown that the better a surviving parent or caregiver is able to cope with the death, the better the child or teen will cope as well. The Children’s Room is dedicated to supporting parents/caregivers by providing an opportunity for them to acquire the parenting tools they need to help the children or teens grieve and so that all can better integrate the death into their lives over time. One of the ways this is done is through Parenting While Grieving: Supporting Children After the Death of a Parent. This eight-week series began in 2012 and has quickly developed into one of our core programs. Now offered twice a year in the fall and spring, the series is designed to help provide both education and support for parents or caregivers when a child’s parent has died. It is designed for parents and caregivers who want to better understand the impact of grief on their child or teen, and provides insight and practical strategies for handling the unique and difficult parenting challenges that inevitably arise as a child or teen grieves a parent who has died. During the series, parents and caregivers are able to learn essential parenting skills such as listening, setting limits, and communication. They are also able to hone these skills at home and share feedback at the next group. Being the parent or caregiver for a grieving child or teen who has had a parent die can feel challenging, like entering new territory for the whole family. “I really [...]

By |February 28th, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: |0 Comments

Constructing Meaning: TCR Teen Metals Workshop

On March 10th, 17 teens enjoyed the opportunity to create personal and unique keepsakes at the TCR Teen Metals Workshop. Beginning with several introductory group activities, everyone had a chance to relax and make connections before beginning the metals work. They later commented on the comfortable atmosphere created during Teen Program events, with one saying "They are so fun and welcoming and a great place to be!" Local artisan Karenna Maraj then walked the group through demonstrations of a variety of metals techniques. She invited them to explore the stations set up between the two floors and experiment with the materials offered. The participants were then given time to work independently while continuing to talk with one another, sharing ideas and casual conversations. The pendants, key chains, money clips, bracelets, and mixed-media pieces produced during the workshop were as unique as the individuals who created them and the memories that they represented. Some brought in photos of their person who had died and preserved them within epoxy or collage. Others focused on combining techniques to capture initials, names, or phrases. The group was also offered a unique approach of placing a metallic, shimmery coat over top of words, so that their pieces held a private meaning belonging entirely to them. As a collective closing, participants shared about the process of creating their metals pieces and what they each represented. The opportunity was also given for each to identify what they were most taking away most from the afternoon. The teens expressed appreciation for having been given "the freedom to be creative." One shared "I just really loved that I could do what I wanted in terms of creating and that there were so many options." Many [...]

By |February 28th, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

Meet Our 2018 “Miles & Memories” Boston Marathon Team: Part 1

We are so proud of our team of Boston Marathon runners, each of whom has a unique story full of personal connections to TCR and strong motivations for running. In order to honor their efforts, we’re going to introduce our team members in two groups. We hope you’ll check back soon to learn more about Paudie O’Connor, John Shea, and Lindsay Shelton. Meanwhile, we are proud to introduce you to Becca Braun, Meghan Murphy, and Tim O’Brien. Becca Braun Becca Braun runs in memory of her husband, John, who died in a running accident in 2010. At the time of John’s death, their children were eight and two years old. They were living in Alaska then, but a visit to the East Coast connected her to The Children’s Room through our Parenting While Grieving series. Becca shares, “The year after John died, we came east for several months and I participated in a class at The Children's Room called Parenting While Grieving. Sitting in a room with a bunch of bewildered widowed parents– my people! –was healing. The stories, the questions, the knowing nods, laughs and tears we shared made me feel less lonely and apart, gave me new strategies, helped me breathe again.” Rebecca’s daughter later participated in one of our school-based peer support groups. Rebecca shares, “I know it strengthened her.” Meghan Murphy Meghan Murphy is a resident of Winthrop who has a unique perspective on our work and our mission. She is a social worker who runs on our team in order to honor the grieving children she encountered during her six years working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. Meghan also runs to express gratitude for the support that her fellow social workers [...]

By |February 26th, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

A Taste of Togetherness: TCR Teen Culinary Day at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

On December 9th, 13 teens gathered to experience a special TCR Teen Culinary Day rooted in a curiosity and shared passion for food and flavor. The group first met together at TCR, enjoying lunch, a food-based icebreaker, and an Opening Circle to recognize shared experiences.  A participant shared afterwards that "[It was] a really fun way to meet other teens." The group then traveled together to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, located in downtown Boston. The excitement of the teens as they first entered 177 Milk Street was audible, as they whispered comments such as "Wow!...Oh my gosh, look, this is amazing - a real TV studio... See, there's the director's chair!" The kitchen was in fact a functioning studio, serving as a home for Milk Street Television, Milk Street Radio, a magazine publication, and a cooking school. The lightly drifting snow set a seasonably-appropriate backdrop, while delicious smells of the recipes demonstrated by the hosting chef—"Rosie" (Rosemary) Gill—filled the warm kitchen. The teens then had the opportunity to work closely together in small teams, trying their hand at mixing, rolling, and cooking yogurt flatbreads in a cast iron skillet and flavoring them with a variety of self-prepared herbed butters. While alternating roles, the teens were invited to make their rounds to the other stovetop stations, taste-testing and savoring one another's creations. The teens also observed a culinary demonstration of tahini brownies, most of them tasting this unique ingredient for the first time. The whole group settled down together to enjoy a family-style meal of lemon grass-coconut chicken or tofu, paired alongside their flavored flatbreads and the brownies. As a meaningful addition to the event, the teens had been invited to each bring and share about a "memory recipe" or image of a food connected to their person who died. [...]

By |January 23rd, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: |0 Comments

Welcoming Our New Executive Director, Liz Cohen

We are excited to share that Liz Cohen is the new Executive Director for The Children’s Room. Liz brings with her a more than 20-year career dedicated to communities without a voice and those dealing with trauma and loss, and a successful track record as a nonprofit executive director. She has extensive fundraising experience and is known for her ability to collaborate, bring people with diverse perspectives together, and create sustainable impact. Most recently, Liz served as a Senior Development Officer for Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JF&CS). Prior to joining JF&CS, Liz was the Executive Director for Families First Parenting Programs where she oversaw the mission, vision, and strategic growth of the organization. When she joined in 2012 Liz was tasked with rebuilding the organization and re-engaging the 18-member Board. In addition to providing strategic leadership, Liz has extensive experience overseeing long term and day-to-day operations. Serving in many leadership roles has given Liz the opportunity to sharpen her skill set and to serve as a mentor to others. She is known for her professionalism and her steadfast commitment to children, teens, and families. She is also recognized for her strengths in public speaking and community education. Liz completed a Master’s of Public Health at Boston University School of Public Health and did her undergraduate work in clinical psychology and child development at Tufts University. Liz currently resides in Arlington. Liz shared, “It is with joy and excitement that I accept this new role! I am thrilled to be working with the staff and Board in this next phase of The Children's Room." We are particularly excited about Liz’s passion for service, and her dedication to and enthusiasm for working with families in need. Liz’s [...]

By |January 12th, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

A Light in the Darkness: On Grieving in the Winter

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” —Desmond Tutu It is often acknowledged that the holiday season can add many logistical and emotional burdens for those who are grieving. Less often acknowledged are the shifts in weather and light that happen as winter arrives and progresses. Here in New England, the days become not only colder, but also shorter and much darker, and these changes may have an effect on our mood, our behavior, and how we care for ourselves and our families as we grieve. Acknowledge the darkness. Though winter can place many extra demands on us, it is important to remember that winter, too, has its place in the course of seasons, and darkness has its place in relationship to light. Similarly, when feeling overwhelmed, pausing to acknowledge that your grief may feel difficult to manage at this time of year can be an important first step toward clarifying how you might cope with the season. Taking time to understand that the season’s changes may be affecting you, and naming the ways that it might be doing so, can help you start to identify the best ways of supporting yourself and your family. Make time for self-care. Making time for your own needs and self-care is especially important in winter. It may seem too difficult or unrealistic to put your own needs first, but neglecting to make self-care a regular part of your daily routine can compound stress and negativity. Like grief, self-care is unique to each individual, but a few examples may include: adjusting your diet and exercise routines to take the best possible care of your physical body taking proper rest, when needed, [...]

By |December 5th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

Welcoming Four New Board Members

We are pleased to announce that The Children’s Room has appointed four new members to our Board of Directors: Jonathan DeVito, Tim Gleason, Katie Gorczyca, and Courtney Silva. “Our four new board members bring a wealth of professional experience and expertise in the fields of bereavement, information technology, clinical social work, and organizational effectiveness,” said The Children’s Room’s Board President, Michael Nagle. “We are proud to welcome each of them to our board, and I am confident that they will help us advance our work serving grieving children, teens, and families.” Jonathan DeVito Jonathan DeVito, AS, is the director of DeVito Funeral Home in Arlington. Jonathan is a 2011 graduate of New England Institute of Mortuary Science in Newton. On December 18, 2012, he was sworn in as a Licensed Funeral Director by the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. Jonathan has been involved with The Children’s Room for a decade in various capacities of support ranging from the sponsorship of our annual Memories Walk to helping to host grief support workshops for the community. He shares, “I’m thrilled to join the Board so I can be more involved in the success of The Children’s Room and help further its community involvement.” In addition to his service at The Children’s Room, Jonathan was named a corporator of the Arlington Boys & Girls Club in 2011, and he continues to assist the Club with fundraising efforts and special events. Raised in Arlington, he currently resides in Lexington with his wife, May, and son Caleb. Tim Gleason Tim Gleason works as a technical architect for Harvard University Information Technology, where he has been employed for the past twenty-six years. During that time, he has been engaged [...]

By |December 4th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |0 Comments

The Straub Family: Committed to Hope

The Straub Family: Crissy, Solia, Sawyer, Saydee, and Ted Finding Connection To say that Crissy Straub loves to run is a vast understatement. Running is her passion. Ten years ago, while on an average day’s run with her husband, Ted, our “Lion Heart Yellow” colored Victorian house caught her eye. “Looking up at the house we saw a sign that said The Children’s Room,” she says. “Figuring it was a place for kids to play, I told Ted I was going to check it out the following week to see if they needed any volunteers. Little did we know that The Children’s Room was much, much more than a place to play.” Crissy followed up by coming for a visit and a tour, and, like so many who enter our doors, she felt a connection. In her words, “I was immediately drawn to the warmth, comfort, and peace I felt when I walked in.” She knew right away that she and Ted wanted to help. Sharing Our Vision After learning about our mission, vision, and impact, Crissy and Ted came to understand what a vital community resource The Children’s Room is as a safe place to grieve with others who share similar experiences. They also saw the uniqueness of the programs offered to both families and to our larger community. In 2010, they made their first long-term financial commitment to The Children’s Room, committing to becoming Circle Donors, through a five-year pledge because, as Ted shared, they believed deeply that “a place like The Children’s Room should always be around and exist as a resource for all people who need it.” Putting Their Feet on the Ground Crissy and Ted have maintained a [...]

By |December 4th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

Holding on to HOPE: Honoring National Children’s Grief Awareness Day 2017

Thursday, November 16th, was National Children’s Grief Awareness Day! We were proud to wear blue to show our support and to connect with the community to raise awareness of the unique needs of grieving children and teens. Leading up to the event, we asked our TCR community to share their thoughts on the importance of grief awareness and support. Their beautiful handwritten reflections were written on blue hearts. Once completed, every two hearts were joined together as a butterfly, symbolizing the integration of grief and awareness and the changes that occur as we support each other with care and understanding. Ultimately, all of the messages we received were gathered and assembled by our incredible interns into one big, beautiful display. Here in Arlington, TCR program staff and interns hosted activities at Ottoson Middle School and Arlington High School. We also hosted activities at Lexington High School, John Glenn Middle School in Bedford, Jordan Boys & Girls Club in Chelsea, and Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester. At the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury, TCR partnered with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute to sponsor the activity. TCR staff and interns hosted CGAD outreach and awareness activities at 7 different schools and community centers throughout Greater Boston. As part of these activities, children and teens were invited to honor their grief by placing a blue dot on a large piece of artwork in order to represent a person in their life who died. They were also invited to share their memories and reflections on blue hearts or strips of ribbon. The response was overwhelming! On the evening of November 16th, as part of honoring Children’s Grief Awareness Day, TCR [...]

By |November 17th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

Grief During The Holidays: Tips & Tools To Help You Through

If you celebrate, Thanksgiving Day may be a special moment of the year dedicated to celebrating and acknowledging our gratitude. Thanksgiving can be an especially complicated and difficult time for those who are grieving. For some, Thanksgiving ushers in the beginning of a holiday season that can feel relentless in the way it impacts our emotions. For so many, Thanksgiving Day brings an added pressure not only to celebrate, but also to feel happy and grateful. This pressure can become overwhelming at times, especially when combined with so many other aspects of the day that can highlight the absence of a person in our life who has died. Thanksgiving foods, decorations, and traditions can be comforting, but they can also be deeply triggering to those grieving a death. With so many traditions and expectations surrounding Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, the loss of an important person in your life may be felt even more intensely. It’s important to give ourselves permission to do what feels right for ourselves and our families. While it’s good to make plans for coping with grief during this time of year, we also need to remember to be flexible and take care of ourselves. Grief is unique for every individual, and you are the expert on your own grief and what feels right for you. Here are some tips on how you can help take care of yourself and those close to you during Thanksgiving and during the holiday season to come. Acknowledge that the holidays may be different this year Different holiday activities, decorations, and foods may remind you of the person who died and how things will be different without them. Acknowledging your feelings about the holidays [...]

By |November 14th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |0 Comments