Walker found a place where they could pour out their pain and learn from other children trying to find a path through grief. The Dougy Center, a nonprofit in Portland, touted as the first center of its kind in the United States providing peer grief support groups for children and families.
It is named after a little boy named Dougy Turno. Facing terminal brain cancer, Dougy would tell other terminally ill kids in the hospital, "I'm gonna die. What do you think it will feel like?" said Brennan Wood, the center's executive director. Children are inquisitive. They are honest. And they have questions about grieving they need answered, she said. "I have never heard a child say, 'I am glad you lied to me about death. I'm glad you kept information from me. I'm glad you left me out of the conversation,'" Wood said. "Children are resilient, but they need a guide to help them be resilient. It does not happen in a vacuum."
For the Walkers, the center has been a godsend. "If you have never gone through it, you can never understand it. The peer and professional counseling has been and is still so incredibly important for our path to healing," Walker said. "And there is no time limit for how long we can use their services."
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