News from Dougy Center, September 2023

Upcoming Events


Gone Too Soon: Supporting Children and Teens After a Death from Gun Violence

National Children's Grief Awareness Day November 16, 2023

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Navigating Grief During the Holidays

December 7, 2023

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The importance of self-care while grieving

Grief is a full-spectrum experience that affects us on physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral levels. At Dougy Center, we provide children and teens with a variety of outlets for expression including music, art, dramatic play, and physical activity. If you are grieving, or know someone who is, it can be helpful to think through how to best nurture the body and mind.

There are a multitude of possibilities for self-care while grieving. What works for you will be as unique as your grief. Here are just a few suggestions to consider:

Build in physical activity. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon, but making time for movement is one of the best ways to care for your nervous system. Fulfilling our daily responsibilities while grieving can be extremely time-consuming, so start small. Take a few five-minute walks throughout the day, put the dishes aside and play with the kids or the dog, or if you have the time, try out a yoga class or a weekend hike.

Spend a few moments each day focusing on your breath. Studies show that intentional deep breathing helps calm your body’s fight/flight/freeze response. Pick something you do every day, such as brushing your teeth or waiting at red lights, and use that as a time to take five to ten deliberate breaths. You can also play with drawing out the exhale a moment or two longer than the inhale. Pay attention to what you notice while you’re breathing. What sounds, sensations, thoughts, and emotions come to the surface?

Create a gratitude practice. This might seem trite given how saturated popular culture is with catchy phrases of thanks, but research supports that conscious gratitude really does shift our thinking and also our neurobiology. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find anything we’re grateful for, but it can be worth coming up with two or three things once a day. Perhaps this is something you do privately, writing them in a journal or thinking about them on your commute, or maybe it’s something you share with friends and family.

What have you found that is helpful for you? We’d like to hear from you. Please share your tips on our Facebook page.

Show your support for families year-round through the Smooth Stone Circle

When a child decides they are ready to leave their Dougy Center grief group, they receive a special gift. The small packet includes smooth stones to symbolize the rough edges of their grief that have smoothed out over their time receiving support at Dougy Center. It also includes one rough rock to represent the grief that they will always carry with them.

In that spirit, the Smooth Stone Circle, Dougy Center's monthly giving program, is an opportunity to ensure consistent and ongoing support after the death of a parent or sibling. 

As a member, you’ll receive a small token of appreciation from Dougy Center, invitations to exclusive events and tours, and the new Smooth Stone Circle newsletter beginning in 2024. Visit to learn more.

Activity: Create a Memory Tree

One way to remember and feel closer to your person who died is to hear and tell stories about their life. We all have stories we like to share. Some are funny, some may be sad, but they all say something about the person and the life they lived. 

Download this activity sheet to help you remember (or learn new things) about the person who died.

This activity is part of a new book as part of a grant from the Brave of Heart Fund, founded by the Foundations of New York Life and Cigna and administered by E4E Relief. Watch for activity books for kids and teens in English and Spanish coming later this year.

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