Losing loved ones and processing hurt and grief is always hard, and even harder alone.

That's why the folks at New Hope Grief Support Community are doing their part to help those grieving the loss of their loved ones. Knowing the help is there is the first step.

"The core of our work is support," David Leonard, executive director, said. "All of the programs we offer include trained facilitators who know how to build community and create connections that help handle grief." 

The nonprofit (located at 3505 Long Beach Blvd., Suite 2C) offers support for adults, as well as for children and teens, with curated programs and events, including seminars, family camps and school-based support groups, which are free for the students.

"We have around 250 youths in the programs now," Chris Cano, program manager, said. "Our programming is created for children as young as 5, with varying support needs."

But there has been a shift in the way the nonprofit has addressed some levels of grief, which meant having to adjust or add programming to meet their client's needs, Cano said. 

"As a program manager, I take all of the calls for grief support," Cano said. "A couple of years ago, we noticed that people were calling more often struggling with grief related to suicide."

Cano added that the team started to focus part of their programming to assist people who have experienced a death of a family member of friend by suicide, and process that grief to help them move forward.

Now, the organization has partnered with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services to offer an eight-week teen grief support group for suicide loss. That group will meet for 90-minute sessions scheduled from Thursday, Feb. 6, through Thursday, March 26. 

“With death by suicide on the rise, the need for teenagers in our community to have a safe place to talk about their feelings associated with their grief is important," Leonard said. "Our hope is that teens will realize they don’t have to suffer alone in isolation, but rather begin to find healing in community.”

While in group, teens will learn how to cope with anger, sadness, guilt and loneliness with emphasis on how to manage stressors and cope in a healthy manner, Leonard said. 

Teens interested in the support group are required to sign up at gazettes.com/newhope, or call 562-429-0075, ext. 2.

Additionally, New Hope Grief relies on sponsored funding and donations to keep the programs up and running. To make a donation, or for more information, go to newhopegrief.org.

The organization also will be participating in the Giving Gala, a fundraiser benefitting 18 area nonprofits, happening at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Long Beach Exchange (LBX) in the Hanger. People can purchase a ticket for the event for $35 that includes food and drink tastings. Half of each ticket sale will be donated to the charity of the ticket holder's choice.

Go to eventbrite.com and search for "Giving Gala 2020."

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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