By K. Aleisha Fetters—
MUNCIE, IN—Grief is a hard journey at any stage of life. But it’s even harder — and more complicated — to navigate as a kid or teen.
Unfortunately, estimates show that one in five youth lose a loved one or friend before their 18th birthday. And 80% say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever faced. And the life-changing event becomes a major SHIFT in their world.
To help support these youth, about a dozen community volunteers — including mental health counselors, teachers, and mission-driven church members — have come together to create Muncie SHIFT, a free nine-week grief-support program designed for youth grades 3 through 12.
“While there are many groups in Muncie that help adults process their grief, SHIFT is the first program in our community that helps kids walk through their grief,” says Meredith Boatwright, LMHC, Muncie SHIFT lead facilitator. “SHIFT provides kids the tools they need to process their grief and gain additional support through the church community.”
This local initiative — adapted from a Watermark Community Church Texas program and inspired by the adult-catered GriefShare — centers on a series of nine weekly two-hour events.
Each week, kids engage in age- and gender-based breakouts, workbook lessons, games, and eat dinner together as friends. Together, they guide youth from anger and fear to hope for what’s next.
“It’s so healing to talk through your feelings with people going through the same thing,” says one SHIFT participant. “I would recommend SHIFT to anyone experiencing a loss, and who isn’t sure where to start in the process of going through the ups and downs of grief.
Designed to offer community, support, and age-appropriate faith-based advice to youth grieving the death of a loved one, these classes are led by volunteers using established programming. And while sessions are held at Commonway Church, participants do not need to be regular members of this or any church to participate.
SHIFT launched in Muncie in May 2022 with 15 children, and program facilitators are eager to serve even more in the upcoming season, starting March 27:
Upcoming SHIFT Details
When: Mondays: March 27-May 22, 6-8pm
Where: Commonway Church in Downtown Muncie (201 E Charles St.)
Spread the Word!
Are any youths in your life experiencing grief following the death of a loved one? Do you know families whose children are in need of grief support? Are you interested in volunteering?
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