We often see death as the final act. But for those left behind, the passing of a loved one is the beginning of what can be a difficult grieving process, filled with questions and powerful emotions.
And for children who haven't been through such painful events, dealing with the death of someone in the family can be even more emotionally traumatic. They might not know what to say or how to deal with what they are feeling. Or they might be afraid to share their feelings out of fear of causing a parent or another adult more sadness.
That's where The Healing Patch can help. This program, coordinated by Home Nursing Agency, provides opportunities for young children and teenagers to work through their grief in a sharing, nonjudgmental environment with others of a similar age or grief stage.
The Healing Patch has locations in Altoona and Ebensburg and also offers outreach programs, in-school support groups and a lending library, with hundreds of items related to grieving available for anyone in the community.
More than 500 children have participated in The Healing Patch programs since 2007.
The program conducts two sessions a month during the school year, including a meal and separate group sessions that include various ways for children to share their feelings with each other.
The parents or guardians also have their own group meetings so they can share and discuss ways to help their children deal with the loss.
The Healing Patch relies on grants, donations and fundraisers to keep going. This year, The Healing Patch will be the recipient of the Mirror's Season of Sharing program.
The Season of Sharing raises money and awareness for a community program each year. More than $125,000 has been raised for seven programs since 2005. The Mirror teams with the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation to ensure every dollar donated is handled properly.
The stories on The Healing Patch in today's Mirror as well as advertisements being run as part of the Season of Sharing campaign attest to the way the program has helped area children deal with grief.
The holiday season traditionally is perceived as a time of happy thoughts and warm wishes. But grieving takes no holidays. That's why it's important that programs like The Health Patch are there for area children to help them through the difficult times.
In this Season of Sharing, we ask you to open your hearts and wallets to support The Healing Patch. Information on how to give can be found on Page F9, and an addressed envelope is included in today's Mirror to make giving easier.
Each of us struggles to find a way to say or do something to ease friends' pain when they experience a death in the family.
Supporting The Healing Patch might not be a direct benefit to them, but it can help children in our community who are coming to grips with their loss.
Your support for the program can made a difference, and isn't that what we strive for with our gifts in this holiday season?