When young children are grieving, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. Parents and caregivers are often also dealing with their own grief, and it’s common to feel overwhelmed. Dougy Center offers peer support groups for kids as young as age 3, providing hope and healing tailored to their needs and developmental responses to grief.
The Brown family began attending Dougy Center groups in 2019, after the death of Benjamin and Adaire’s oldest daughter Rhyse.
“Rhyse suffered a hypoxic birth injury which rendered her a paraplegic. She had a trach and was nonverbal,” explained Adaire. “Nevertheless, she was able to communicate a myriad of feelings and emotions. We never went anywhere as a family without Rhyse. Whether it was going to the snow up at Mt. Hood or hopping on a plane, Rhyse and her passport were always ready to roll. Despite the brevity of Rhyse’s life, she packed our days with exponential meaning and purpose. She undoubtedly touched so many lives with her quiet love.”
After Rhyse died, the Browns’ pediatrician recommended Dougy Center for their younger girls, Rheagan (now 6) and Rhyan (now 4). They began attending in-person groups several months later.
“Going to Dougy Center is the highlight of their weeks,” said Adaire. “They love having a creative as well as constructive place to share their thoughts and feelings about Rhyse. Rhyan was only 14 months old when we lost Rhyse, so her grief looks different than Rheagan’s. Dougy Center is still a place where they both feel encouraged to share their loss out loud and know they will be heard. I know Rheagan is especially grateful for Dougy Center because the other kids in her group are attuned to what it feels like to lose a loved one. That is not a virtue that she has always experienced in every friend group she has outside of Dougy Center.”
An important part of Dougy Center for the Brown family is feeling that they are not alone and being with others who truly understand what they are going through. Through their support groups, they have made deep and lasting friendships with people they now consider extensions of their own family.
“Dougy Center has been an invaluable resource,” said Adaire. “I consider myself to be a very intentional, resourceful, and protective mother when it comes to my children. However, I, alone, was not capable of managing their grief. Dougy Center can help to process and unpack all of those big feelings that can consume the hearts of adults and children alike.”