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Free workshop helps families deal with the death of a loved one

Free workshop helps families deal with the death of a loved one

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Grief is not only different for everyone, but it can be even more difficult for a child to communicate his or her feelings about the loss. 

A grief workshop called “A Frozen Grief Journey” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation Center for Grieving Families in Shippensburg, aims to help families journey through the pain together. The workshop is free. 

The Drew Michael Taylor Foundation was created after an auto accident in the Outer Banks, N.C., on June 13, 2006, claimed the life of 3-year-old Drew Michael Taylor. His parents, Randy and Marcie Taylor, created a foundation in his name to make a positive difference in the lives of children. Through the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, they are honoring Drew’s memory by providing grief education and support programs for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. 

“We want to help children and families learn how to process their grief in a positive and productive manner,” Marcie Taylor wrote in an email interview.  “Our mission is to provide grief education and support, and that is what we hope to do through this workshop.”

In addition to being co-founder of the organization, Taylor also is the vice president, and in charge of most day-to-day operations.  

“I facilitate our Bereaved Parents Support Group and co-facilitate our other groups. I’m also the Drew’s Hope Family Services Coordinator,” she said.

The foundation also provides resources through the DMTF Center for Grieving Families in Shippensburg, which includes grief support groups, community workshops and educational programming, and a grief and loss lending library of books and DVDs for both children and adults.

A Frozen Grief Journey will be the DMTF Center’s first child/family workshop with the help of a grant.

“We received a mini-grant through the Partnership for Better Health in Carlisle, Pa., to expand our grief education and support programs,” she said. “The Partnership for Better Health provides funding for grants and initiatives that improve individual health status and community health capacity through the use of evidence-based strategies and best practices.”

Grief can be very isolating. The DMTF Center hopes to create a supportive atmosphere where children and their families can talk about their pain and share memories of their loved one through a variety of activities based on the “Frozen” movie. 

“While many Disney movies have characters that are grieving the death of a loved one (Cinderella, Snow White, Anna and Elsa, etc.), as a society, we don’t usually focus on that part,” Taylor said. “However, for bereaved children, we can use that grief as a means to get them talking about their loss and teaching them healthy coping skills.  We also hope that the adults who attend with their children learn more about grief and how it can manifest itself in children.”

Bethany Gardner is leading the workshop and is the part-time administrative assistant. She also is the children/family workshop coordinator and a volunteer facilitator with the Drew’s Hope grief support program.

Gardner is excited about the workshop for the opportunity to make connections with children on the delicate subject of grief in a way in which kids can relate.

“Many children are familiar with and love Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ so we are hopeful that they will be interested in finding out how Elsa, Anna, and Olaf can help them with their grief,” Gardner wrote in an email interview. “What I really hope that the children and families get from this workshop is a better understanding of what grief looks and feels like to children and what they can do to process their loss in a way that is meaningful to them.”

Top photo: Marcie Taylor, left, along with her husband, Randy, founded The Drew Michael Taylor Foundation in Shippensburg, Pa., after their 3-year-old son was killed in a car crash. Bethany Gardner, right, is leading the free  “A Frozen Grief Journey” Saturday at the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation Center for Grieving Families in Shippensburg. (Submitted photo)

If you go ...

WHAT: “A Frozen Grief Journey” 
WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3
WHERE: Drew Michael Taylor Foundation Center for Grieving Families, 7 S. Earl St., Shippensburg, Pa.
COST: Free 
CONTACT: For reservations, call 717-532-8922, speak with Marcie or Bethany, or email drewmichaeltaylor@pa.net. 
MORE: For more information about Drew Michael Taylor Foundation Center for Grieving Families, go to http://drewmichaeltaylor.org.

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