On Monday, the Eagles hosted families from the Center For Grieving Children for a holiday party ...
Studies have indicated that bereaved adolescents 18 years and under who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling find it hard to concentrate on school work, have trouble sleeping and/or believe their life will be harder than it will be for other people. Although grief is mentally and emotionally trying, every child wants to remain hopeful about his or her own future.
To offer support for grieving children and teenagers in our city, the Eagles hosted The Center for Grieving Children's annual holiday party at the NovaCare Complex. Following a specially prepared dinner for guests, Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez, long snapper Jon Dorenbos, nose tackle Beau Allen and bereaved children decorated snowflakes with pictures of lost loved ones to hang as ornaments at home.
"Every holiday season we try to have a big holiday party for the kids and it's really fun" said Darcy Walker Krause, executive director of The Center for Grieving Children. "All of the kids get to come together and see the kids from different locations and different groups and tonight we thought it would be really special to do something with the Eagles."
Ms. Krause was right. It was special as all of the players sat down for arts and crafts, but Dorenbos was able to provide more than his magic tricks. He was able to provide support to these children based on first-hand experience.
"It's definitely something that I can relate to," Dorenbos said. "As a kid, I lost my mom to domestic violence - my dad murdered my mom."
The tragic story of Dorenbos' childhood is not new to many people, as it is part of the No More campaign to stop domestic abuse and violence, but to these kids it was something special.
"It shows that you can really excel and that you can really succeed in whatever you put your mind in to," Krause said. "The kids really care when someone gets it, and he really gets it. That's something special."
Dorenbos came to the gathering hoping to shed some light on the dark times that these families have faced by teaching different methods that he used.
"They're starting to realize that it's okay to cry, it's okay for them to miss that person and it's okay for them to talk about that person," Dorenbos said as he described his struggle of coping with his loss.
"It gives them a different way of learning how to deal with death and it gives them a different way of grieving. Hopefully what these kids take out of this is that though our loved one passed on, you can remember them and that they live within us and they live all around us."
The event as a whole was a learning experience for everyone, not just the families.
"We get just as much out of an event like this just like all of the children and families do," said Dorenbos.
"I think it's cool that these kids get to see how they impact our lives and then we get to see how we impact their lives. It kind of goes back and forth there, and to me it all comes back to these people in this situation. A lot of times when you're put in a position like this you feel so isolated, you feel so alone, and you feel so closed and to be able to see that you're not alone is awesome."
The Center for Grieving Children, a 2014 Eagles Care partner, is a safe and caring place where young people and their families who are grieving a death can find help to grow through the healing process. The organization's work is based on a deep respect for the individual's experience of grief, the healing potential of peer group support and the value of adult mentoring. The organization is the only multi-service resource in the city devoted to children's grief support. For more information, please visit grievingchildren.org.