Visit to a Caring Place - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Program Spotlight
December 11, 2019

Visit to a Caring Place

There is a place for caring for families suffering grief, The Highmark Caring Place. Students in Geneva College's Master's in Counseling program regularly visit The Caring Place to learn about the work being done there, which is focused on supporting those, especially children, who are grieving loss.

Grief

Grief is defined as the deep pain associated with a loss. Grief often appears after the loss of a loved one, but is not limited to people. Grief can appear after one has lost a pet, a home, a job, and anything else that is significant in a person’s life (Psychology Today, 2019).

When a person is grieving, they are experiencing a combination of complex emotions such as sorrow, anger, confusion, and guilt. Many of the feelings associated with grief overlap with the symptoms of depression, such as loss of interest in pleasurable activities, diminished ability to concentrate, and fatigue (Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 2013).

Child Grief

The grieving process affects each person differently. For children, grief can be even more difficult because they are still learning how to appropriately express their thoughts and feelings. It can be difficult for anyone to experience such a complex process alone, which is why it is helpful to have a strong support system.

Family members often contribute to the number of members of one’s support system. However, if the whole family has experienced a loss, it can be difficult for members to process their own grief, while also attending to the grieving process of the children in the family.

The Highmark Caring Place

The Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents, and Their Families provides additional support for children and their families to help them heal after experiencing a loss. The Caring Place is a community resource that offers safe environment for families who desire to be around others who understand what they are going through (The Highmark Caring Foundation, 2019).

The Caring Place also created the observance of Children’s Grief Awareness Day in 2008, which is observed every year on the third Thursday in November (The Highmark Caring Foundation, 2019). This can be an exceptionally difficult time for grieving families because it is so close to the start of the holiday season. Celebrating the holidays is normally a joyous time, but for grieving families, this can be a time of sadness when reminded that certain members will not be present because they have passed on.

Children’s Grief Awareness Day was organized to bring attention to the fact that a strong support system can make a significant difference in the lives of grieving children, and also create an opportunity to community members to ensure that grieving children receive the support they need (The Highmark Caring Foundation, 2019).

My Experience

I am a student enrolled in the Masters of Arts in counseling program at Geneva College. I am also currently enrolled in Dr. Shannan Shiderly’s Advances Child and Adolescent Treatment and Intervention class. Dr. Shiderly arranged for my class to visit The Caring Place where we were able to listen to a presentation about Child Grief Awareness Day, and take a tour of their beautiful facility. The facility has many volunteers who come and support grieving families, and also support the foundation by helping to run events for the families that come for services.

When listening to the presentation, I could tell the staff takes this organization very seriously and takes pride in the services they have arranged for grieving children and their families. There is art on every wall in The Caring Place facility that has been made by the families that come to receive services. Each family makes a quilt with a picture of their lost loved one on it. It symbolizes their love for the person that has passed, and is in a way a memorial that can be visited by family members when they stop by The Caring Place.

The Caring Place is a foundation that creates an opportunity for the community to come together to support one another, while also encouraging growth, healing and love for everyone receiving services. 

-Victoria Ford, MA in Counseling student at Geneva College
-Jalen Byrd, MA in Counseling student at Geneva College