Caitlin’s Story

As this year comes to a close, I want to share a powerful story with you.

A story of a brave young woman who, through grief counseling and camp adventures, learned how to cope with her grief.

December 14th, 2017 started as just a normal day for Caitlin. She got up, went to school, and had a friend drive her home. It was there that she discovered a scene that would change her life forever: a car had crashed into the garage and her dad was nowhere to be found.

“A feeling of panic ran through my mind; my dad wasn’t answering his phone and I had so many questions. I tried to calm my nerves until my brothers and I were taken to a family friend’s house. Later that day, we were brought back to the house where we found a police chaplain and my mom waiting. I remember asking my mom, “Is Dad dead?” though she remained silent. The police chaplain told us that my dad had died by suicide earlier that day. In shock, my mind raced, trying to grasp the last memories I had of him and the memories we would never make.”

Caitlin and her dad on a Kayaking adventure

Caitlin was 15 years old when her dad died. She had a million questions, all starting with “why” and with no foreseeable answers. Thankfully, Caitlin’s mom had heard of Providence Hospice of Seattle and the Safe Crossings Program. Two weeks after her father died, Caitlin received a visit from an in-home grief counselor. While she was not ready to share at the time, and was coping by pushing away her grief, this visit opened the door for future healing.

As the months went on, Caitlin continued to struggle. One of her teachers knew about Camp Erin and he recommended Caitlin try it out. Feeling isolated and with a desire to connect with others who had gone through similar experiences, Caitlin viewed Camp Erin as a next step in her healing.

“Going to camp for the first time, I found support and made new friends. I was also able to formally say goodbye to my dad in a way that brought me peace. Each of us had something in common. Through each of the activities, I felt a connection to people that I hadn’t before. Hearing the other campers share their stories allowed me to reflect on my connection with my dad. Camp Erin was the best memory of that summer and those experiences have stayed with me ever since.”

There is no end point to grief, and continued access to services, when needed, can be critical for kids like Caitlin. After Camp Erin, Caitlin reached out to the Safe Crossings Program. During counseling sessions, she talked about everyday life, her hopes and dreams, and slowly she built up to talking about her dad’s death.

Caitlin and her dad when she was young

“I felt like I had a person who genuinely cared in my corner, able to provide me with support and ways of representing my grief. Through the sessions and projects, I was able to further connect and say goodbye to my dad.”

Caitlin attended camp again this past summer, building on those friendships she had made before and making new ones. She also began attending other support groups, which allowed her to meet peers who had been through similar experiences.

“Being one of the oldest campers, more solidified in my grief, it allowed me to reflect on how far I have come with the help of Safe Crossings Foundation. Even though I still have a long journey ahead of me, the confidence and trust I now have in understanding my own grief is farther than I ever thought I would be able to come.”

Caitlin is just one of the thousands of children and young adults in our region who are served by Safe Crossings Foundation-funded programs each year. Each child copes in different ways, and the broad spectrum of programs funded by Safe Crossings Foundation are vital to helping these children heal and thrive. With a vision of no child grieving alone, we are asking for your support. Please make a donation to help grieving children today.

Warm regards,

Karen Schrantz
Executive Director, Safe Crossings Foundation

P.S. Holidays can be especially challenging times for grieving children. Safe Crossings Foundation strives to make that time a little easier by funding a variety of programs that help at this time of year. Please join us in inspiring resilience in grieving children by making your donation today.

Caitlin and her family on a hike

2020 Conference

In response to a call from local providers of children’s grief support, Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) presented the 6th Annual Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief. As the leader in funding grief support services for children in the Pacific Northwest, SCF is hosts a conference each year that provides continuing professional development credits while building community and sharing ideas.

This one-day conference was held at Seattle University on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 and focused on the theme of Connecting Children to Support. The conference was designed for support providers such as clinicians, therapists and counselors, therapists-in-training, teachers, school staff, and healthcare workers.

Goals for Conference
• Provide education on best practices through the exchange of timely clinical information, programs, advances in research, and successful ideas for children’s grief support programming
• Provide practical tools and skills to use when supporting grieving children
• Create a space for sharing, connecting, and learning from each other and diverse perspectives
• Promote networking and support among colleagues

When: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Where: Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

*Scholarships are available on upon request. Please email wendy@safecrossingsfoundationation.org for more information.

2020 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief – Presenters

Leah M. Batty-Hibbs, M.A., LMHC, Ph. D.
Robert J. Baugher, Ph. D.
Lynda Cheldelin Fell, M.A.
Helena P. Hillinga-Haas, M.A., LMHC, ATR-BC
Jennifer McCormick, LICSW
Jessica McKimmie, Chaplain
Kristin Michell, M.A.
Monique Mitchell, Ph. D., FT -Keynote
Kelsey R. Sawyer, M.A., R-DMT
Terri Steward, M. Div
Aida V. Wells, LICSW

Check out our Schedule at a glance to learn more about session topics and breakouts. Click Here.

Session Descriptions

Monique Mitchell, Ph.D., FT
Keynote: Loss and Grief: Youth in Foster Care

This presentation will discuss the experiences of death and non-death loss for youth in foster care, and how we can use what we have learned from peer grief support programs (which have been operating for over 30 years) to address the unmet needs of this grieving and marginalized youth population. The L.Y.G.H.T. program, a new intervention for grieving youth in foster care will be introduced, and preliminary findings from the program implementation with youth ages 12-16 will be shared.
Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the importance of addressing and acknowledging loss and grief for youth in foster care.
2. Describe a new peer grief support program for youth experiencing death and non-death loss in foster care.
3. Assess the needs and benefits for implementing a peer grief support program for a marginalized population of youth.

Monique Mitchell’s Handout

Kristin Mitchell, M.A.
What Providers Need to Know Before a Death by Suicide

This session will focus on counselor survivors of suicide loss. It will cover common stages of response that a counselor may experience after the death of a student/client by suicide as well as the impact on the counselor professionally and personally. It will also include information about self-care vs support care and suggestions on how to create a support care plan for counselors.
Learning Objectives:
1. Identify common emotional responses of counselor survivors of suicide loss.
2. Recognize impact of suicide loss on counselors professionally and personally.
3. Begin to develop individualized support care plan for counselor survivors.

View presentation here

Aida V. Wells, LICSW
Cultural and Linguistic Grief Support

Cultural and Linguistic Grief Support (Journey Program). This presentation will provide the audience information about how Seattle Children’s Hospital through the Journey Program is building community by using a grief and loss support model that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for those families who otherwise have no access to bereavement support in their own language.
Learning Objectives:
1. Will be able to learn about the needs of Latino grieving parents.
2. Will be able to identify culturally appropriate practices Latino parents use to cope with Grief and Loss.
3. Will demonstrate an understanding of how Latino parents honor their loved ones

Aida Wells Handout A Healing Journey and Constructs of a Mexican American Family. Powerpoint Here

Lynda Cheldelin Fell, M.A.
Compassion Fatigue: Bereavement and Burnout

The bereavement industry is the oldest care-giving profession in the world yet one of the biggest challenges professionals face is how to mitigate career burnout. Through Compassion Fatigue: 10 Ways to Mitigate Career Burnout, Lynda Cheldelin Fell explains the signs of compassion fatigue and teaches 10 self-care modalities, the evidence-based science behind why they work, and how to implement them between clients and in everyday life. Professionals will learn experiential exercises to help them cope with challenging days and protect against burnout down the road.
Learning Objectives:
1.The complementary roles of self-care and resilience.
2.10 Evidence-based modalities that help protect against career burnout.
3. Experiential exercises to help cope with challenging days.

View Lynda Cheldelin Fell’s Presentation here. View the handout here

Jessica McKimmie, M.Div. / Terri Stewart, Ph.D.
LGBTQIA and Incarcerated Youth and Grief

This presentation will cover the complexities that a youth’s queer and/or trans identity may bring to grieving (and healing) processes. The facilitators will invite participants to learn and explore their own identities to unveil ways they may be able to better connect with – and be support to – queer and trans youth. Other intersections with the LGBTQIA+ community that may be discussed: disability, incarceration, poverty, people of color, immigration and citizenship status, and homelessness.
Learning Objectives:
1. Special considerations for caring for LGBTIA+ Youth.
2. Appropriate language and considerations for working with transgender youth.
3. The intersection of Incarceration: special considerations for caring for incarcerated / formerly incarcerated youth.

View presentation here

Leah M. Batty-Hibbs, M.A., LMHC, Ph.D.
Providing Support for Grieving Children and their Care Givers: An Embodied and Creativity Focused Counseling Approach

The intent of this presentation is to enrich your awareness of your personal perspectives of loss and grief, your clinical skills (what theoretical approach or perspective resonates with your style of assessment and counseling), your critical thinking skills in conjunction with possible interventions and an opportunity to become more familiar with different types of loss and grief experiences, specifically when working with grieving children and their care-givers. The presenter’s personal approach “Embodied and Creativity Focused Counseling” teaches parents to co-regulate with their child (inter-personally), which in turn will encourage the child to self-regulate (intra-personally), therefore increasing parental connection and self-efficacy of the child. Being able to self-regulate allows an individual to control their emotional responses to their environment, at the same time, increasing their ability to grieve in their own way by honoring their own internal and external experiences. Increasing connection with a child’s primary care-giver, will have a positive impact on the child’s mental health, in addition to increasing connection and support within their relationship.
Learning Objectives:
1. At the completion of this presentation participants will be able to describe components of a grief group which provide connection.
2. At the completion of this presentation participants will be able recognize areas of improvement in their current offering of grief support.
3. At the completion of this presentation participants will be able to articulate the relational effectiveness of their grief program.

View the powerpoint here

Jennifer McCormick, LICSW / Kelsey R. Sawyer, M.A., R-DMT
Trauma and Grief in the Body

This presentation will explain how trauma shows up in our brains and where it remains dormant and the “flip your lid” model of brain mechanics during trauma. Furthermore, it will explain trauma stored in the body: why and how and how traumatic grief impacts kids over time and through developmental stages. Lastly it will describe the importance of the body and physical activity in grief therapy.
Learning Objectives:
1. Identify and explain ways in which trauma is stored in the brain and body.
2. Name three physical or somatic manifestations of traumatic grief.
3. Define movement therapy in its relation to grief. 4. Develop three ways to utilize movement or other creative expression modalities in a grief group with children

View presentation here

Robert J. Baugher, Ph.D.
Childhood Guilt During Bereavement

One of the most difficult issues for a child of any age following a death is coping with guilt. Because of their egocentric view of the world children often carry with them the heavy burden of guilt. In this workshop we will discuss a variety of child guilt reactions. We will then explore a number of suggestions for coping with guilt.
Learning Objectives:
1.Be able to list more than eight common child guilt reactions.
2. Be able to identify common child guilt statements.
3. Understand how to implement several suggestions for helping a child cope with guilt.
4. Learn how to ask a child important questions related to guilt.

View handouts here and here

Helena P. Hilinga-Haas, M.A., LMHC, ATR-BC
Art With Heart Activity

This presentation aims to show how to blend creative expression and grief therapy. It will focus on the ways to facilitate age specific and appropriate activities that utilize time efficiently and and provide opportunities for kids to process their feelings using creative expression.
Learning Objectives:
1. Blending creative expression with grief support in specialized ways.
2. How to facilitate age specific and appropriate creative expression activities.
3. How to utilize time efficiently when facilitating creative expression activities.

View it here: https://artwithheart.org/wp-content/uploads/Caregivers-Guide-Helping-Kids-After-A-Death-Art-with-Heart.pdf

https://artwithheart.org/wp-content/uploads/Caregivers-Guide-Talk-to-Kids-When-Anticipating-a-Death-Art-with-Heart.pdf

Continuing Education Credits

This program is co-sponsored by Safe Crossings Foundation and The Institute for Continuing Education. The program offers 6.50 contact hours with full attendance required. Application forms will be available on site. There is no additional fee to receive continuing education credit. Continuing education verification is mailed to attendees following the Conference. If you have questions regarding continuing education, the program, speakers, learning objectives, contact The Institute for Continuing education at: instconted@aol.com.

NOTE:  To receive continuing education credit, applicants must complete all CE materials, sign in/out at designated locations, and submit an evaluation form for the sessions attended. 

NOTE:  It is the responsibility of the attendee to determine if CE credit offered by The Institute for Continuing Education meets the regulations of their state licensing/certification board, including the Ethics Workshops scheduled.

NOTE:  Ethics credit is not offered for any workshop sessions

Continuing Education Credit Offered:

Psychology:  The Institute for Continuing Education is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor  continuing education for psychologists.  The Institute for Continuing Education maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  

Counseling/ MFT:   The Institute for Continuing Education and Safe Crossings Foundation  are cosponsors of this program. This co-sponsorship has been approved by NBCC.  The Institute for Continuing Education is an NBCC approved continuing education provider, ACEP Provider No. 5643. The Institute for Continuing Education solely is responsible for this program, including the awarding of NBCC credit.

Social Work:  This program has been approved for 6.50 social work continuing education hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR, NASW-MA Chapter of CE Approving Program. Authorization No. D-81347.

Nursing:   The Institute for Continuing Education is an approved provider of continuing education in nursing by the California Board of Nursing, Provider CEP 12646.  Nurses are responsible for checking with their state board to determine if credit issued through an approved provider of the CA Board of Nursing is acceptable by their state board.   

Skills Level:   Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced.  Participants are urged to review the session descriptions to determine appropriateness for professional and personal needs.

Non-Credit Events: CE credit is not offered for registration, board meetings, meal functions, social events, and breaks.

Completed CE Materials:  Please bring your professional license information in order to include on CE application materials.  Completed CE packets should be returned at the end of the Conference.  There will be a box designed to drop off completed CE packets.

ADA:  If you have special needs, please contact Wendy Ozanne at: wendy@safecrossingsfoundation.org  or by phone at:  206-652-4723.

To view a list of speakers as well as program materials from the 2019 conference, visit our conference page HERE

Our 2019 Annual Luncheon was a Great Success!

This year’s SCF Luncheon on October 24th, wrapped up our 30th year of service to grieving kids and families. We are enthusiastically looking toward the future as we celebrate this significant milestone in our organization’s history. The luncheon event was a huge success with so many friends and supporters.

We honored Fran Bigelow of Fran’s Chocolate for her long-time support of Safe Crossings Foundation. Fran’s love for grieving children and their families shines bright and we are honored to be able have her as part of the Safe Crossings family.

We heard from two wonderful young ladies who have been served by Camp Erin as well as from author Caroline Wright who has written about how to talk to children about death.

Check out the videos from the luncheon below.

Caroline Wright Video

Taylor at Camp Erin Video

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Safe Crossings Foundation at our luncheon. Your generosity helped us raise more than $481,000 for grieving kids and families!

As we wrap up our 30th year of helping grieving children, we want to take a moment to thank all of you for your support over the past three decades. Together, we have changed the course of children’s lives following the death of a loved one. Let’s continue to work together to offer grieving-youth a future with the joy, security, and possibilities that all children deserve.

To learn more or get involved with Safe Crossings Foundation, contact us at info@safecrossingsfoundation.org.

Call for Speakers

2020 NW Conference on Childhood Grief
Due Friday, November 15, 2019

In response to a call from local providers of children’s grief support, Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) will be presenting the 6th Annual Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief. As the leader in funding grief support services for children in the Pacific Northwest, SCF is hosting a conference that provides continuing professional development credits while building community, sharing ideas and learning together.

This one-day conference will be held at Seattle University on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 and will focus on the theme of Connecting Children to Support. The conference is designed for support providers such as clinicians, therapists and counselors, therapists-in-training, teachers, school staff, and healthcare workers.

Symposium and Workshop-Style Session Presentations
SCF invites you to lend your expertise by participating as a full symposium or workshop session presenter. To offer CEU credits to attendees, all symposium speakers must have obtained a Master’s degree or higher. Some workshop sessions may be offered by speakers without a Master’s degree. Panels and interactive workshops are welcome – we love creativity and hands on experiences! Sessions are an hour to an hour and a half in length, so please note your preferred session length. Presentation applications are due Friday, November 15, 2020. Materials for selected presentation will be due February 19, 2020. Note: The conference registration fee will be waived for presenters.

Goals for Conference
• Provide education on best practices through the exchange of timely clinical information, programs, advances in research, and successful ideas for children’s grief support programming
• Provide practical tools and skills to use when supporting grieving children
• Create a space for sharing, connecting, and learning from each other and diverse perspectives
• Promote networking and support among colleagues

Requested Topics:
Type of Death
• Suicide
• Addiction
• Prolonged illness
• Anticipatory grief
• Sudden/other traumatic death
Building Community
• Culturally relevant programming
• Accessibility of services
• Services in community locations
Self-Care
• Organizational self-care
• Tools for adults/children
• How grief manifests in the body
Research and Data
• Historically marginalized populations (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigrant communities, etc.)
• Programs in multiple languages
Practices for Support
• Art and play therapy
• Support when time is limited: small ways to be mindful of youth and provide support
• Support for grieving guardians
• How schools can best provide support after a student has experienced a death

2020 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief – Presenter Application

Applications are due Friday, November 15, 2019, by email to karen@safecrossingsfoundation.org. Contact Karen with questions at 206-650-9368.

In submitting this application, you acknowledge the following: 1) agreement to meet all deadlines for materials; 2) presenters are responsible for all travel, lodging and other related expenses; 3) there is no compensation for presenting at the Conference; 3) if your presentation is selected, the information provided in this application, including your biographical information will be used in conference materials.

Name:
Address, City, State, Zip:
Phone:
Email:
Organization:
Title:
Accreditations:

  1. Brief Biography; if a panel, include all presenters (to be included in materials):
  2. Presentation Title:
  3. Brief Description of Presentation (to be included in materials):
  4. Learning objectives (required for CEU credits):
  5. Literature references (required for CEU credits):
  6. Identify Audiovisual needs:
    laptop ___projector flip chart with easel ability to play DVD or CD
  7. Professional References (regarding speaking and teaching ability):
  8. Please describe your: 1) professional expertise & qualifications, 2) speaking experience, and 3) list of published work
  9. Please provide your resume.

To download a PDF copy of this Call for Speakers, CLICK HERE

To view a list of speakers as well as program materials from the 2019 conference, visit our conference page HERE

Annual Luncheon

Safe Crossings Foundation’s Annual Luncheon to benefit local grieving children will be held on October 27th, 2020.

When:
Thursday, October 27th, 2020
12:00-1:00pm Program

Where:
Now a virtual experience! Registration information will be available soon.

For more information visit our official Luncheon page HERE

Contact Karen Schrantz with questions or for more information Karen@safecrossingsfoundation.org

The Power of Grief Support Animals

I remember when my own therapy-dog-in-training, Rosie, seemed to know instinctively what to do when at the bedside of my dying landlord. Even though she had yet to begin her training, a puppy of 6 months, she tenderly placed her chin on my landlord’s feet providing a soothing presence. Upon his death, she moved from person to person sharing a moment of pause with each individual.  Rosie’s presence was exactly what was needed by those who had been holding vigil by the bedside.

Animal Assisted Therapy is a form of therapeutic support using dogs and other appropriately certified therapy animals. Through the caring and careful attention of a facilitating counselor, the therapy animal supports a therapeutic process.  The value of the animal’s presence is limitless. Some specific therapeutic benefits that Animal Assisted Therapy provides include: decreases isolation; offers unconditional acceptance; provides non-judgmental presence; interacts with unconditional love and listening; provides physical connection; and provides comfort emotionally, physically and cognitively. Additionally, therapy animals enhance self-esteem and self-efficacy. Research has also shown that Animal Assisted Therapy helps lower anxiety and cortisol levels – a stress-related hormone.

As a Child Life Specialist, I witnessed first-hand the therapeutic impact therapy animals provide for hospitalized youth of all ages. It has been a long-standing dream to cultivate a team partnership with an animal for our work with grieving individuals.

The love and open-hearted acceptance of an animal are two of the most powerful healing ingredients one could hope to offer a grieving individual. Sometimes there are no words; animals need no words. Grief is supported by presence. Therapy animals are experts at summoning the pure art of presence. They reach the heart; the heart is where grief resides. These specially trained animals seem to be fluent in what we humans call love. A grieving individual yearns for their special person because of love.

Rosie was found after researching breeds that I felt would be appropriate for the Safe Crossings Program at Providence Hospice of Seattle. She is a medium sized Teddy-Bear Bernedoodle. Teddy-Bear Bernedoodles are known for their gentle nature and loving presence with children and adults.

As Rosie demonstrated her aptitude for tenderness at my landlord’s bedside, I see her now as my collaborator in working with end of life issues. As we partner together to reach our goal: Therapy Dog for Grief Support Services at Providence Hospice of Seattle and the Safe Crossings Grief Support program at Providence Hospice of Seattle, I witness the teacher she is to me. I am humbled by her earnest delight and interest in connecting with others and her instinctive support to the vulnerable. It is a genuine privilege to embark on this journey with Rosie. I look forward to her debut when she becomes a certified colleague for our department.

Jill Meyers, MA, CCLS

Safe Crossings Counselor with Providence Hospice of Seattle

Leaving a Legacy

Caroline Wright, the author of this children’s book and a mother of two little boys, was diagnosed with the most aggressive brain cancer, a glioblastoma, and given a year to live. During that year, Caroline spent all her time working on her legacy, focusing on writing stories to leave for her two boys. Everlasting Creature is one of these books.

Caroline has a warmth and gentle nature that is hard to miss.  She has made peace with her situation and that is clear when you interact with her.  Safe Crossings Foundation has been fortunate enough to help Caroline with her mission of getting this book to kids who need it. 

“I wrote a children’s book about a parent with terminal illness, as I am a parent who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am not religious and the kinds of comforting language that is often offered to children felt dishonest to me with my own in discussing the possibility of my leaving them.”

“This book isn’t about death, or the end at all. It’s about love, the kind I have for my kids and that I share with so many other parents: the everlasting kind. I realized that if I died, my love wouldn’t go away. It would ebb and flow, show up unannounced in little memories, live in our home like I had—almost like a being in itself. And so, the Everlasting Creature was born.”

“It has been clear since my diagnosis that even the general idea of death makes some people uncomfortable, which makes this a challenging project for most publishers to be excited about. The warmth behind death is only apparent to those who have seen and embraced it, like me. There are families out there that need this book to be made. Mine is one, surely, but not the only. So here I am, publishing it.” 

“One of the great opportunities held within publishing it myself was that I could build into it the social responsibilities elements I really see as a part of it—a sort of “one for one” concept—that get this book directly into the hands of those who need it most through children’s bereavement organizations.  I wanted to use this opportunity of self-publishing to connect directly with bereaving children, the actual little people – like the actual little people in my family—for whom this book is intended. For free. “

In the book, a mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness at the hospital and is sent home with a magical creature that embodies the strongest part of her: her love. The creature settles into their family home, supporting the mother in the moments she spends with her son, like reading, cooking or painting together. After the mother’s death, the creature moves into the son’s room and does all the same things they did together when the mother was alive. The shape of the creature’s role shifts from supporting the mother to supporting the son through his grief. Her love never dies; the creature reminds the son of this fact with their tender moments that had been shared with the mother. At the end, the creature, and the mother’s love, bonds the son with the father. They are never without her. 

After Caroline self-published Everlasting Creature, it was picked up by the editors at Random House publishers in New York. They loved it and wanted the creature’s message to reach even more kids with the help of their imprint Rodale Kids! Their version, which closely resembles the one we share here at Safe Crossings, is called Lasting Love and will be available this summer. For information about Caroline’s upcoming book tour, go to www.carolinewrightbooks.com as it develops.


A Mixing Bowl of Grief

For the past 30 years, supporters like you have helped Safe Crossings Foundation provide kids with opportunities to express their grief in safe and constructive environments. Grief support opportunities funded by SCF provide kids with skills and experiences that encourage them to realize their loss does not define them. It brings them together to recognize that while their loss is part of who they are, it is not all they are.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about Reagan and Sawyer, two wonderful kids who have been helped by Safe Crossings Foundation and the programs you help fund.

One weekend Reagan and Sawyer went to stay with their grandmother, as they did most weekends. They were expecting a baby brother shortly and this was a time for them to spend with their grandma and for their parents, Cassie and Soloman, to get some alone time. While this weekend began like any other, it changed the course of their lives.

You see, it was this weekend while they were away, that their father Soloman took his own life.

Soloman was born with cerebral palsy. He was a mixture of old soul and comedy. A beloved stay at home dad, he loved to build furniture and most of all he was a great listener. Soloman also struggled with PTSD due to a childhood full of constant bullying. Soloman was in constant pain throughout his life, and his family later learned that it was this pain that caused him to kill himself.

Following this tragedy, a family friend referred Cassie to Safe Crossings Program, and her children began attending grief support groups. At first, Reagan and Sawyer did not want to share and refused to participate in nearly every activity. A few weeks after their little brother was born, they attended a Safe Crossings bonfire. This was the first time Sawyer opened up and talked about his dad.

Grief is different for every child. Reagan did not want to go to a kids’ group at first, but when she began attending one, she realized the other kids shared her experience. She and her brother felt safe because they knew people understood what they were going through. Being in a group of kids who have also experienced loss helped them open up.

For many kids, including Reagan and Sawyer, Safe Crossings Foundation-funded programs are the beginning of the healing process. They are taught life-long skills for handling the stress and emotions that grief inevitably brings.

Thanks to you, Reagan and Sawyer have a community of people to turn to when they need it most.

With your continued support this holiday season, Safe Crossings Foundation will be able to help even more kids in our 30th year. Grief is a lifelong journey and Safe Crossings Foundation strives to ensure no child has to walk that journey alone. Donate now to help us serve even more children!

With gratitude,

Karen Schrantz

Executive Director

Children’s Grief Awareness Day 2018—Sentinels of Hope

Drive across the 520 floating bridge any evening and you will be welcomed by four LED light towers, called the sentinels. These towers illuminate the east and west ends of what is considered the world’s longest floating bridge. Any frequent bridge traveler will notice that the sentinels occasionally shine different colors, but they may not know that the colors commemorate significant causes and events.

This was true on November 15, 2018. Governor Jay Inslee officially declared that day Children’s Grief Awareness Day in the state of Washington and the four sentinel towers were changed to Safe Crossings Foundation blue. The sentinels brightened the path and sent a message of hope and support to the children in our community who are grieving and have their own bridges to cross toward healing.

As the lights were sending a beacon on November 15, social media also lit up with messages of hope and comfort with the hashtags #CGADHope and #childrengrieve. Fran’s chocolate shops across the city added a sweet touch to the day, selling special boxes of chocolates in which 25% of the proceeds were donated to Safe Crossings Foundation. SCF board members hosted this fundraiser, with a reminder to guests that these special chocolates can be ordered year-round on Fran’s website and are a great way to simultaneously give and gift.

Below are pictures of our wonderful volunteers who were at the Fran’s stores to answer questions about Children’s Grief Awareness Day and Safe Crossings Foundation.  Thank you Rachel, Nathan, Ami, John and Nate!

Healing Broken Hearts

Six years ago, when Julie and Bryan Roos’ son Jackson died unexpectedly, their world was shattered. As they gathered their three younger children close, Julie and Bryan wondered how they could ever hold their family together when their own hearts were so broken. The Safe Crossings Program entered their lives, gently—first through a parent night hosted at their son’s middle school, and then through a friend whose family was being supported by Safe Crossings.

Julie met therapist Jill, and every week for a year Jill came to the Roos home and created a safe space for the three young children to process their grief. Jill helped the children honor Jackson by putting together books about him,  playing, creating and talking. The following summer the children attended Camp Erin-King County, a weekend grief camp that provides the usual camp activities as well as opportunities for healing and companionship. Julie recalls how her children loved their time at Camp Erin and created lasting memories.

Reflecting back on how the Safe Crossings Program stepped right in and guided her family through that difficult first year, Julie says: “What I think is so fantastic about it, is that you go through such a tragedy, and as parents we were so concerned about our children and how we were going to go on. And, the fact that there were services available to help our children was so heartwarming. I was just stunned at the love and support that this organization could offer to my heartbroken children. It’s such a blessing that we needed at that time.”