News from Dougy Center, October 2022

Upcoming Events

Grief Education Webinars

Becoming Grief-Informed: Foundations of Grief Education

October 27, 2022

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40 Years of Listening: What Children & Teens Who are Grieving Want Adults to Know

November 17, 2022

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Portraits of Courage Campaign

October 17 - November 17, 2022

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National Children's Grief Awareness Day

November 17, 2022

Virtual Professional Seminar

January 23-27, 2023

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Volunteer Facilitator Training

January 28 & February 11, 2023

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Join us in the movement to #UnderstandGrief. Find out more here.

Celebrating Día de Los Muertos

Día de Los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a two-day holiday to remember family members and friends who have died. Día de Los Muertos has origins throughout Mexico and parts of Latin America, and is celebrated on November 1 and 2.

This year at Dougy Center, families can participate in Día de los Muertos activities to remember and honor their loved ones. We encourage you and your family to honor the lives of the people in your life who have died with their favorite food, drinks, and activities.

On November 1 and 2, we invite you to post photos of your loved one in celebration of Día de Los Muertos to your social media. Use #dougycenterofrenda and tag Dougy Center @thedougycenter.

Find more about Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and download a special activity here

Join us for Portraits of Courage, October 17 to November 17, 2022

Show your support of Dougy Center during Portraits of Courage — a month-long campaign that starts on October 17 and culminates on November 17, National Children's Grief Awareness Day. Help inspire your community and bring NEW supporters to Dougy Center’s work.

We invite you to host a Portraits Party gathering at your home, or host an online friendraiser and fundraiser page that educates and inspires your community to support the important work of Dougy Center. Our goal is to bring awareness to Dougy Center's grief programs, and raise $50,000 to help ensure that Dougy Center can continue to be a resource to everyone.

Dougy Center will provide you with everything you need to get started, including ongoing support and special announcements along the way. Find more information and get started here.

Coming Soon!

Don't miss your chance to win a brand new 2023 Porsche Boxster. Watch for details on the 26th Annual Porsche Boxster Raffle later this month!

Dougy Center's Founder, Bev Chappell, leaves a legacy of support

It’s with a heavy heart that we share that our founder, Beverly Chappell, died on September 30 at the age of 92.  

Bev first met Dougy in 1981 while he was a patient at Oregon Health & Science University receiving experimental treatment for an inoperable brain tumor. Bev saw Dougy engaging in honest conversations with other children and teens facing their own advanced illness. She learned that children and teens who are grieving often need to talk with others, their own age, who are facing similar circumstances. 

After Dougy died, Bev started grief support groups in the home she shared with her husband, pediatrician Dr. Allan Chappell, and their family. The first group was four boys who each had a father die. They talked, played, and connected with one another in a way they couldn’t with friends who didn’t understand what they were each going through. 

Bev discovered what children and teens who are grieving need most is support from those who wouldn’t tell them to get over it, offer unsolicited advice, or judge how they are grieving.  

This legacy of hope and healing continues at Dougy Center 40 years later. We are deeply grateful to Bev for what she started, for her insight, and for her compassion and support for children, teens, young adults, and their families who are grieving.   

We will share more information when it is available on opportunities to honor Bev’s life.

Tips for supporting children and teens when a family member has an advanced serious illness

Explaining that someone has a life-limiting illness to a child or teen can feel overwhelming and daunting. These tips may help you have that hard conversation and know how to better support them during the challenges of living with a family member who has an advanced serious illness.   

Begin the conversation. Giving children difficult news is not an easy task, though your child will likely have already sensed that something has shifted within the family. While there is never a “perfect time” to have these conversations, waiting can lead to hurried exchanges that provide too little information or that comes too late in the illness for children to best cope and be included in the experience. Find a time that leaves ample space for questions, reactions, and clarification.

Use open, honest, and clear communication. Be honest and give clear accurate and information. Euphemisms like “won’t be here much longer” or “passing on” can be confusing. Use the words “will die from” or “dying” when speaking to children and teens. Name the disease. Young children need basic concrete information regarding the illness, what will happen in the immediate future, and specifics about how their care and routine will be maintained. Adolescents and teens appreciate having more detailed information, especially as the family member’s health declines.

Validate feelings and thoughts.

It is important to listen to a child’s responses without interrupting or minimizing fears. Children often worry that they can catch the disease, or that they either caused or in some way contributed to their family member’s life-limiting illness. You can validate their experience by sharing similar feelings/thoughts, affirming that each reaction is normal, and giving them permission to express those feelings and thoughts.

Model being okay with not knowing. Be honest if you don’t have an answer. It’s okay to not know. Validate that it’s important to ask questions even when there are no answers.

Provide structure and routine. Life is constantly changing and often seems very unstable when a family member has an advanced serious illness. Providing structure with flexibility will help a child regain some sense of safety and control.

Provide time to be a kid/teen. It’s important for your child to spend time with and play with their peers. This invaluable time provides your child some normalcy, a physical outlet, social connection, and can be a supportive coping strategy when your child is overwhelmed with all the other changes that are occurring at this time.

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