Kids & Teens

All grief support groups have been moved to an online format due to COVID-19. Please visit our Online Groups page for more information about schedules and signing up.

The death of a parent, sibling, or someone close can be devastating for children and teens of all ages. Children experience a range of intense emotions including sadness, anger, fear, and guilt. They often feel isolated and unable to talk about the death with peers who have not had a similar experience. They also may be reluctant to share their grief with surviving family members for fear of upsetting them. Too often, children end up grieving alone.

We offer programs designed for children of all ages

Kids Who Care (ages 5–12)

A peer support group that brings together youth and families with similar death loss experiences to help normalize feelings, share experiences, and connect with other kids who are experiencing similar struggles.

For a primer on what grief looks like in children, please read this resource.

The groups help children process their losses and the accompanying emotions. Our trained staff and volunteers support the children as they use art, activity, and story telling to work through the emotions evoked by their loss. Past projects have included activities focused on how to understand feelings of anger, sadness, and worry and sharing favorite memories of loved ones. Kids Who Care support groups are open-ended and are offered at no cost. Dinner is served during the group.

Teens

Participants receive the support of peers who can truly relate. They benefit from hearing how others have coped, and the realization that they are not alone in their experience of loss. They benefit from helpful guidance on how to manage and express their complex emotions in a healthy manner. The group serves as a safe place for youth to come, share, connect, and heal.

The teen group also includes outings that offer teens the opportunity to have fun with others teens struggling to find joy after loss. Activities include bowling, movies, pizza parties, hiking, and other exciting activities each quarter.

We partner with local schools to offer support groups located on their campuses for students grieving the loss of a loved one. We seek out schools with a high level of need for grief services, and are consistently forming new partnerships in the academic community.

Student participants receive the support of peers who have also faced the loss of a loved one. They are shown they are not alone in coping with loss and are given tools and strategies to help them manage and express their emotions. They are given a safe place to share openly and honestly with one another, with the added comfort of remaining in the familiar environment of their school. Learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What services do you offer kids who are grieving?
  • Onsite: For kids ages 5-12, we offer our Kids Who Care group, which uses play and activity to help kids understand and express their emotions around their loss, develop positive coping skills, and maintain a connection to the loved one who died. There is a concurrent group for the child’s parent/guardian. This program is bilingual, so that families who speak Spanish can participate.
  • Offsite: We partner with local school districts to provide services at the child’s school. School services are offered in English and Spanish. Learn more about our school grief support options. (link to schools FAQ)
How have services been impacted by COVID-19?
  • We have paused in-person groups to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We are currently accepting referrals and new clients. Right now, we are providing families with care kits, activities you can do at home, and offering limited individual teleservices for kids, and lots of phone support for parents and caregivers!
  • Our Teen Group is meeting online twice a month. To enroll a teen, please complete the Service Inquiry Form and we will call you to talk through the process—including talking with your teen about trying group.
Where are youth groups offered and when do they meet?

Our Kids Who Care group meets at our Austin location at 2306 Hancock Dr, Austin TX 78756 on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8. Dinner is provided.

Why does my family need to come in for Pre-Group Appointment before joining a group?

This appointment offers you and your child the time and space to talk about your loss and how you are each coping with your grief. While families may share a common loss, often the individual family members are expressing their grief in very different ways. In the Pre-Group Appointment, you will have the opportunity to see our space so that when you come to your first group, you will feel more comfortable. It also allows The Christi Center team the opportunity to assess whether you and your child(ren) is/are ready to participate in a support group and prepares you for telling your loss story.

Do I need to be present while my child attends group?

For our Kids Who Care program, we offer a concurrent group for the parents/caregivers of the child. This is a space to connect with other parents about your grief as well as the challenges of parenting a grieving child. Occasionally, some children are experiencing a loss that does not affect the caregiver as much. In those cases, we ask you to stay on our campus.

How is grief in youth different than adult grief?

Kids are less likely to possess the vocabulary to verbally process their loss. That means they may “act out” their grief. Sometimes that looks like anger, sadness, withdrawal, or being the “clown.” Some kids will express that all in one day! Children’s grief tends to be experienced in shorter bursts. This may mean the child is sharing about her grief and then wants to play 5 minutes later. Children who experience a loss will re-grief loss at each new developmental age. For you as a family, it may mean that you have “moved on” from your most intense grief period before your child has. Grieving children also crave normalcy, which means they may be ready to return to regular routines like school before you are ready to return to work. For pre-teens and teens, their grief may make them feel isolated from their peers. The peer support model allows them to feel “like a regular kid.”

Who facilitates your youth groups?

Our Kids Who Care group is facilitated by a clinical professional and assisted by trained volunteers including interns under the clinical supervision of a licensed clinical professional.

What is the process to get my child into a Christi Center support group?
  1. Complete our Grief Services Inquiry Form and one of our team members will call you within 1-2 business days. You may also call The Christi Center from 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday at (512) 467-2600 to speak directly with someone.
  2. We will be able to answer your questions about our services and, if applicable, schedule a Pre-Group Appointment. We will also provide you some tips on speaking to your child about the group.
What is the cost to attend groups?

Grief support services at The Christi Center are provided free of charge, thanks to the support of donors and foundation partners.

What are groups for kids like?

Our Kids Who Care group divides the children into smaller groups based on ages and uses age-appropriate art, activities, and expressive play to help kids understand their emotions, connect with each other, memorialize their loved ones who died, and develop positive coping skills to use outside of group.

rainbow painting

“The Christi Center was such an important part of our healing—we know we are not alone. All our stories here are different, but we are all here to find our new normal. My family’s journey was not easy and I wouldn’t wish loss on anyone, but it was our journey. We came out stronger on the other side.”

– Jessica

Getting Started

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