Boys & Girls Club Blog

Program Highlight: Grief Support for Youth and Families

June 18, 2021

One of the many quality programs offered at the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh is our Grief Support program. This program is open to all youth in our community between the ages of 5-18 and their families, who have experienced the death of a person. This program meets at the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on the second Thursday of each month.

Our evenings together start with a visit from our Therapy Dog teams, led by canines Hobbes, Lucy and Lily Ann. Families and grief volunteers then enjoy a family-style dinner together as a group. Depending on the month or activity planned, our group will then either stay together for an all-group project or break off into smaller age-appropriate groups for the evening activity. During past groups, we have done activities such as making “Wish Sticks” to share messages or wishes with the person being remembered, visiting Fire Escape to paint and decorate pottery, discussed anger and healthy coping strategies while relieving stress through smashing eggs, and we have broken and repaired terracotta pots while discussing support systems, challenges, usefulness and purpose that can come after being “broken”.

Children, teens and families grieving a death often feel like no one understands what they are going through, and truthfully, no one’s grief is the same. At the same time, those who are grieving often appreciate being able to share in their grief with others who are also on their own grief journey. Through talking and listening, youth and families can find hope and comfort in their personal bereavement process.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining our group or would like more information, please reach out to our Grief Support Coordinator, Tiffanie Wilson at or the Director of Youth & Family Engagement, Danielle Bittelman at Our group is also always looking for volunteers. Please reach out to learn more about upcoming volunteer training.

Below are 8 things to try when grief gets intense – a great resource from The Dougy Center:

Breathe. When we get tense we tend to hold our breath or have short, shallow breaths. First, just notice that you are breathing and then try slowing it down, breathing more into your belly, and exhaling a little longer than you inhale.

Move your body. This doesn’t have to be a sport (but it can be) — take a walk, do a push-up, dance, or try cleaning. It’s strange, but it can help!

Express yourself. Write, draw, organize, listen to/play music, or anything else that lets you express yourself without having to talk to someone.

Make room for whatever feelings are coming up. If you try to push them away, they will probably just push back harder. Feelings change and they won’t last forever. Grief has no timeline, but it does change over time.

Be kind — to yourself. Grievers tend to give themselves a really hard time for not doing grief right — whatever that “right” might be. Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can at the moment and that it’s okay you’re having a hard time.

Be a good friend — to yourself. Experiment with telling yourself you can do this, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. You might be feeling emotions you’ve never had before or doing things in life for the first time and all of it is happening without the person who died. Take a moment to acknowledge how new and different this is and tell yourself, “Even if I’m overwhelmed right now, I will figure this out.” And then…

Ask for help. We know, this one can be really hard and scary to do. Keep it simple and remember that people usually want to help, they are just waiting to be asked.

Take time to celebrate whatever is going well. When you’re grieving it can be hard to make space for feeling good. You might feel guilty if you find yourself laughing or having a good time. Taking a break from grief doesn’t mean you love or miss the person any less.

© 2018 by The Dougy Center