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Hospice of the Valley Helps Kids Heal after Loss

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is an undoubtedly difficult journey. For children, it can be a particularly confusing and debilitating transition. The Sharks Foundation chose Hospice of the Valley (HOV) as a 2011-12 grant recipient to support the organization’s mission to comfort children as they partake in the healing process. Recently, HOV staff hosted the Sharks Foundation to share how they assist their youngest clients in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

At first glance, the children’s therapy room at HOV resembles a typical play area, adorned with colorful drawings, art projects and dolls. A second glimpse reveals that this room, despite its flair, is a place to mourn and reflect. The drawings portray images of loved ones lost and the dolls are stitched with different facial emotions to help children communicate their feelings. The room has a distinct calming effect to which the HOV staff quickly alluded, telling stories of teenagers and adults who discovered the children’s room by chance and requested that their future counseling sessions be held there.

For 13 months following the loss of a loved one, children as young as three-years-old are counseled at minimal cost to their parents, giving families the opportunity to mend while eliminating the worry of incurring additional expenses. During that time, they converse with their counselor, draw and paint, write poems, act out their feelings with the aid of toys and dollhouses, and care for the growing pumpkins in HOV’s peaceful outdoor garden. Due to their youth, hands-on activities are often the easiest and most therapeutic ways for children to express themselves as they grapple to come to terms with a loss.

The Sharks Foundation grant allowed the organization to continue to improve and bolster their positive effect. "Hospice of the Valley is extremely grateful to the Shark's Foundation for ensuring that grieving children in our community have the tools they need to cope with a loss, share their feelings, and function better in school and at home while giving them hope, support and guidance for the future,” said President and CEO, Sally Adelus.

Every element of HOV evokes a collective calm. From the passionate staff to the quiet settings, HOV is an organization that understands the grieving process and provides much-needed comfort to their clients. The Sharks Foundation is proud to support Adelus and her team in their efforts.

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