The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

Let’s talk about death and Porsches.

On Saturday night at the gala for The Dougy Center for Grieving Children
a guy named Warren won a Porsche Boxster for $100. My husband and I spent slightly more for these wheels:

Not as good as Warren’s deal, but K-Pants approved.

I found out about the Dougy Center when I was working on an amazing project at Sesame Workshop called When Families Grieve.

The Dougy Center is one of the country’s leading child bereavement centers, working with kids who are coping with the death of a sibling, parent, relative, or someone close. They’ve served children and families, mentored other centers, and led workshops across the U.S. and internationally for 29 years.

Most recently, director Donna Schuurman (left) was in Japan helping adults understand how to aid children coping with trauma and loss in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

For a lot of us, death is hard to come to grips with and even harder to talk about. But some people don’t have a choice.

When a parent or a sibling dies suddenly or after a long-term illness, caregivers often aren’t sure how to treat the kids. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that childhood grief finally started to get some attention. People had just assumed that kids got over things.

But it turns out kids have very good memories and very big emotions.

My husband and I had the pleasure to meet Liam, a teenager who started going to The Dougy Center after the death of his older brother and a close family friend. We were incredibly moved by some of the lyrics to Liam’s song “Beginning”:


Oh I’m standing on the ruins of the worst days of my life,

and from here, I see the future that awaits me. 

Oh I’m swimming in the river of opportunity,

and each current seems to call me with a new beginning.


Since 1982, The Dougy Center has served approximately 25,000 children dealing with the emotions of grief: anger, sadness, frustration, despair. Each month they serve 650 children and family members.

And their services are completely free. Families don’t have to worry about insurance or covering costs. For families already in the throes of emotional and financial turmoil following a death, this is critical.

With all the kinds of counseling available now The Dougy Center may not seem as earth-shattering as it did in the 1980s: But it is.

Well-intentioned caregivers and counselors often still assume that grieving is a process that can be worked through like the 12 Steps. But the families at The Dougy Center know that grief comes and goes in waves, some so powerful they knock you down breathless and some that simply lap at your feet. One thing is for sure: Grief isn’t something you just “get over.”

In the Dougy Center ‘s support groups, kids talk with others facing similar emotions, express themselves through art, and get out their energy in the “Volcano Room.” Some of their artwork was for sale at the gala’s silent auction, accompanied by stories of how the art was tied to memories of their loved ones.

Unfortunately, we were outbid on the rodeo mirror we wanted.

Next year…


The Dougy Center receives no public funding, and is supported solely through private donations.

If you are in Portland, consider supporting The Dougy Center through volunteering, in-kind donations, or attending the annual gala.

Anywhere else in the US , you can click here to support The Dougy Center. Or go further and find a local child bereavement center to support in your area.

One response to “The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

  1. I wish this was around when I was a child. I lost several close family members in one year. I was one of those kids everyone thought would “get over it”. It took many years of learning to cope with so much. When I was 14 I had to help arrange 2 funerals because my father and his parents completely lost it both times. When I was 18, I had to help arrange my grandmother’s because the whole family was a basket case and her death was unexpected. You buckle up for the ride and do what you have to do, but when I was 14, it was sheer hell to have to go through that–ALONE. Not even my siblings could help out with that…They didn’t make it in until later. I shared the link. People never know when this can come in handy. Thank you for sharing it with me.

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