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Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, is a grief support center for children, young adults and families dealing with the death or life-altering illness of a parent, sibling or child. We provide free peer grief support year-round for as long as is needed. We are currently serving over 285 participants from 55 towns in our center every two weeks. In addition to these services, we provide training through our education and outreach programs across the state to a variety of organizations including schools, houses of worship and corporations. We also provide onsite support after any trauma or loss. Our goal is to create communities where grief and loss are transformed into resilience, empathy and compassion; and create communities where no child grieves alone.
Imagine is completely privately funded through the generous contributions of our donors, and our work is only made possible through their support.
Imagine is a family-model and so the parents/guardians receive support as well. Providing support for the grieving adults in a child’s life is an essential component in supporting the child or teen. The purpose of these support groups and of Imagine is to provide support in a safe environment where children and teens acquire the tools they need to become more resilient and learn healthy ways to cope with difficult and painful feelings both for their current loss and future life losses.
Imagine is founded on the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to grieve in a supportive and understanding environment and that the role of peers and a caring, healthy adult in the life of a grieving child is critically important. Imagine supports and enhances the lives of grieving children and teens at a critical time in their development. The death of a family member, or other painful loss such as illness, divorce, separation, abandonment, parental incarceration, is a time of crisis and, if handled with love and support, can eventually become a process of growth, healing and transformation for children and their families. At Imagine we honor and encourage the safe expression of all feelings and provide an environment in which participants develop lifelong healthy coping skills and make meaning from their loss that allows for growth and transformation.
Imagine, Inc. uses the peer support group model, the healing arts, physical play and movement, service to others and community gatherings to provide a safe and healing environment for coping with the painful feelings that accompany loss. Children, teens and adults learn lifelong healthy coping skills, build on their natural resilience, and make meaning from their loss that allows for growth, healing and transformation.
The movie Finding Neverland traces a young child’s journey through grief. Johnny Depp plays the role of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. Young Peter, already fatherless, loses his mother to cancer. At the funeral he tells Mr. Barrie, “I thought she would be here forever.” Mr. Barrie replies, “So did I. But in fact she is. Because she lives on in every page of your imagination.”
Children come to understand and make sense of their world through play and imagination. A child’s imagination is one of their most valuable “built-in” tools for managing fears, concerns and the stresses of life. Imagination helps children learn about their world, solve problems, empathize with others and become creative adults. Imagination is necessary for learning and helps children cope with difficult or new circumstances and allows them to stay open to what is possible in life. It is their imagination that allows children to maintain a connection with their parent or sibling who has died – whether in journaling and story writing like young Peter in the movie, carrying a touch-stone or token with them, sharing memories or countless other ways.
Our goal also is for grieving children to imagine a future of possibility, growth, resilience and transformation and for the adults in their lives to imagine the same.
To support children and families coping with loss and foster resiliency and emotional well-being for all those who grieve.
Imagine a world where grief, trauma, and loss are transformed into resilience, empathy and compassion. Imagine a world where children coping with loss grow up emotionally healthy and able to lead meaningful and productive lives.
The symbol that is part of our logo is a mandala, designed by Joe Landi of Thinc. Loosely translated to mean “circle,” a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It is a reflection of the cycle of life and represents wholeness It is used to help establish a sacred space and as a focus for silence and meditation. According to Carl Jung, the mandala represents the unconscious self and helps to identify emotional challenges that allow one to work toward wholeness. Awareness of the mandala may have the potential of changing how we see ourselves, our planet and even our life purpose. Mandala drawing is one of the healing activities conducted by participants during Imagine peer support groups.