Children’s Grief Center ramps up support services for grieving children and their families

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Since the Children’s Grief Center was founded 20 years ago, they’ve served more than 7,000 people with the goal of providing support services after losing a loved one.

These services are important as New Mexico ranks second in the U.S. for childhood bereavement, which is why the center is drumming up support for its efforts to help the state.

"One in 10 children in New Mexico will experience the death of a parent or a sibling before the age of 18," Children’s Grief Center’s Jade Richardson Bock said. "New Mexico ranks higher than most other states for a variety of reasons: We have reduced access to medical care, we have reduced access to mental health services. So if you look at the rates of suicide, homicide, overdose, cancer; those are all higher than the national average."

These problems can leave younger New Mexicans feeling lost or alone.

"There are a lot of things we can do to protect people and make our lives safer but the truth is, people are always going to die," Richardson Bock stated. "When children experience the death of a parent or a sibling in childhood, it’s particularly traumatic."

The need for the center’s services has only increased during the pandemic, as more than 5,000 New Mexicans died due to COVID-19.

"As the only agency in central New Mexico that serves people who are grieving, we’ve been inundated with requests for help from individuals and institutions," Richardson Bock said. "At the same time, we’ve been challenged to respond to those requests because of the challenges of the pandemic."

Although the Children’s Grief Center hasn’t had to turn anyone away, they have had to adapt.

In March 2020, they didn’t have a computer with a camera on it. Now, they are providing free services online to supplement the in-person services they recently started offering again.

"The program is very simple," Richardson Bock said. "It’s community-based, it’s volunteers that take a special training and they show up to hold space for people who are grieving."

Pandemic or not, Richardson Bock says the center’s services will always be needed because death is a part of life – and the center plans to continue helping New Mexicans with that.

"Grieving, people know that there is never a way to go back to normal. We talk a lot about the new normal after a death of a loved one or a significant change in your life. And I think as a community, we’re stepping into that realization as well that this is a new normal and it will continue to be a new normal for the rest of our lives."

On Friday morning, Joy Wang will be talking with a volunteer who started using the Children’s Grief Center’s services at age 13 after losing her dad. Joy will be talking with the volunteer about how her story shaped her decision to come back and help more New Mexico children.