Tiles of emotional art come together for display at Mourning Star
Where do our children go to cope with the loss of a loved one?
Nationwide there are less than 400 centers for grieving children and one of the top, Mourning Star Center, is located here in Palm Desert. Mourning Star specializes in helping children (ages 3 to 18) and their families develop healthy coping skills after the death of a loved one.
The environment in the Center is welcoming for all ages of children and adults. Children are encouraged to express their grief through a variety of activities, from art to physical activity, from one-on-one counseling to group experiences. The Center also provides a room for the children’s caretakers, teaching them how to help their children grieve and helping them understand and cope with their own grief.
How does a child perceive death? How does an adult respond? It is important to understand that until 7 or 8 years old, most children do not understand the concept of death. When a death occurs, an adult should be honest and use age appropriate language with the grieving child. Often times, art allows the child to express those feelings that he/she cannot verbalize. The walls of Mourning Star are covered with those very meaningful illustrations.
In addition to running the center, Mourning Star Director Pamela Gabbay and Program Coordinator Melissa Lunardini also lead grief support groups in all three Coachella Valley school districts. Both are nationally-recognized presenters in childhood bereavement. Mourning Star also offers one of the Valley’s only suicide loss groups.
During the summer months, Mourning Star offers a special camp for affected children at Big Bear called ‘Camp Erin.’ The Friday – Sunday gathering is free for up to 100 children from Riverside and San Bernadino counties and features a specialized teen component. The support team for the camp consists of 110 to 120 volunteers.
If you know a child or family who has lost a loved one and are grieving, let them know about the Mourning Star Center. The experiences the Center provides can assist the child and family in understanding their grief and helping them build a new support system with other grieving families.
Mourning Star Center is located at 42-600 Cook Street, Suite 202, Palm Desert, CA 92211. For more information call 760-836-0360.
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