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Since You’re Gone

The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens

The Garden provides support to grieving young people and their families following the death of someone close, including parents, siblings, other family members or friends. We run programs and host discussion groups geared toward helping young people identify and share their feelings, and to help them begin the healing process. Parents and guardians meet separately for a chance to discuss their own concerns as the family unit navigates the grief journey.

The Garden runs two programs annually at its Northampton location, an 8-week session in the fall and a 10-week session in the spring. In addition, our services are increasingly accessible through area schools via guidance offices and other programmatic or incident-specific counseling efforts within each school or district.

The Garden offers this service free of charge, but it is not a free program to run. We rely 100% on donations from individuals, businesses and a variety of development activities. The Garden has served over 400 families since it was founded in 1998 by Barbara Weiner-Dubeck.

To learn more about The Garden, contact Shelly Lenn at The Garden at (413) 582-5312 or email us HERE.
If you’re interested in volunteer opportunities at The Garden, click HERE to download an application.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does The Garden work with kids? : Yes, The Garden works with kids and their families following the death of someone close.

How old are the kids at The Garden? : 5-18 years.

Are kids at The Garden remembering kids? : Some are, some aren’t. At The Garden kids are remembering someone close who has died (e.g. parent, sibling, grandparent) and for teenagers we welcome those remembering a close friend.

Do adult caregivers attend The Garden? : Yes, all youth must be accompanied by an adult caregiver. Adults attend so that The Garden can support them as well.

At The Garden does everyone meet together? : After an opening circle all together participants break up into small groups based on age. Our groups: Kids in grades K-2nd, grades 3rd-5th, middle school, high school and adults.

What happens in the groups? : Kids participate in planned activities, projects, and games that connect to our pre-set themes and are meant to support them in their grief. The adult group is more discussion-based, allowing for the sharing of successes and challenges of raising grieving children.

What does it cost to attend The Garden? : Nothing. Services at The Garden are free of charge.

Does my family have to live in Northampton? : No, The Garden works with families from all over Western Massachusetts.

Is The Garden only for families when the person died from cancer? : No, The Garden does not have any limits on how, where or when the person died.

If I am interested in signing up for The Garden, what are the next steps? Call or email Shelly Bathe Lenn at 413-582-5312 or slenn@cooleydickinson.org to arrange for an intake meeting.

Is The Garden available to speak with my group or organization about services? Yes! The Garden is available to speak to groups of all sizes (community services groups, places of worship, schools, etc.) on a range of topics related to grief and bereavement. For more information call Shelly Bathe Lenn at 413-582-5312.

Additional Resources:

The Dougy Center
The National Center for Grieving Children & Families

10 Ways to Help a Grieving Child
From the National Alliance for Grieving Children

National Poll of Bereaved Children & Teens

Give to Cooley Dickinson VNA & Hospice
Give to the Garden
The Garden relies on the generosity of our donors to continue providing services to grieving children and teens.
  • Not Alone

    Brothers Owen (16) and Morgan (14) and their mother, Shannon attended The Garden in the fall of 2017 following the untimely death of their beloved dad, Jon. Jon died of stage lV pancreatic cancer at the age of 43. He died the day before Owen’s 13th birthday, in February 2016. Following, the brothers participated in The Garden’s school outreach program at their respective schools in Hatfield. At the time, Morgan was in the 5th grade at Hatfield Elementary School and Owen was in the 7th grade at Smith Academy.

    Read The Whidden's Story
  • Learning to Process

    Our son, Seth, was just five years old when his one-year-old sister, Callie, died very suddenly from an undetermined virus. Understandably, he was deeply affected by her loss. His Dad and I were struggling in our own grief and trying our best to help Seth with his. He had a lot of questions about what had happened and where she was now. These questions were hard for his Dad and I to answer because some were painful to talk about and some we just didn’t have the answer to.

    Read the Durants' Story
  • Grieving Bill of Rights

    A bill of rights for grieving teens, assembled by teens at The Dougy Center, one of the oldest children's grief support centers in the nation.

    Learn More
  • Opening Up: A Six-year-old's Journey

    By Jenny Waterman

    When my husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at only 38 years old not only was I lost but I had no idea how I could help our 6-year-old daughter, Lilli-Anna, understand and cope with the loss of her daddy. I was so afraid that Lilli-Anna would struggle for the rest of her life to try and understand why this happened and go through school being “different”. I couldn’t bear the thought.

    Read Jenny and Lilli-Anna's Story
  • An Instant Connection

    By Megan Biela

    I came to The Garden by myself when I was 19, a couple of months after my older sister passed away. I wanted a safe environment to explore my grief. I wanted to talk to people who knew what I was going through. I wanted to feel better. I remember doing art projects that helped us explore our feelings about the loss.

    Read Megan's Story
  • My Time in The Garden

    By Danielle Jez

    I came to The Garden because my dad died in a car accident when I was 11 years old. One of my aunt's friends suggested that we try it. (She later became one of my professors who helped me with my senior psychology seminar project on programs for grieving children, inspired by The Garden).

    Read Danielle's Story