Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento
The loss of a child creates a heavy burden of grief for the family and friends. To help prepare for an expected loss or deal with the unexpected loss of a child, Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento offers the resources of compassionate professionals who help each family member move through grieving in a personal way.
Grief specialists can include members of the pastoral team, social workers, and Child Life Specialists, and incorporate therapy that is appropriate for the age and relationship of each person. Children often benefit from the play and art therapy available, while older siblings and parents may need someone outside the family to talk with.
Sutter also offers the Children's Bereavement Art Group. The program uses the creative arts as a second language to help children and their families express the grief experienced when a loved one has died.
About the Children's Bereavement Art Group
The death of a parent, sibling or significant person is a painful experience. For a child, it can be particularly painful because adults tend to protect them from such events.
The Children's Bereavement Art Group helps children learn to cope with and accept the death of a loved one by encouraging them to express their grief through creative outlets. The artwork children create through drawing or painting becomes something tangible into which the children can put their feelings.
Grieving children can also find support from their peers who have a loved one who has died. Children are placed in groups according to age, development and type of loss. The groups meet every other week for five months. Each group is facilitated by an art therapist with extensive background in childhood grief. The art therapist is assisted by trained volunteers.
The art therapist maintains regular phone contact with parents and guardians to discuss the child's progress in the group. A family night is held at the end of the program to which the child may invite family and friends to share the experiences of the group.Back to top.
The History of the Program
- The first Children’s Bereavement Art Group was held on April 4, 1985 at Sutter Memorial Hospital. Sutter Hospitals Foundation, now called Sutter Medical Center Sacramento Foundation, provided the seed money of $1,000 to start this program.
- The George Bush Administration awarded the Children’s Bereavement Art Group the 573rd Point of Light Award on September 27, 1991.
- The Sierra Health Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to Children’s Bereavement Art Group to expand the program. In 1993, Mercy Hospice and Roseville Community Hospital Hospice, now called Sutter VNA and Hospice Roseville, joined Sutter Hospice to provide bereavement services.
- In March, 2001, the Sacramento Community Services Planning Council awarded the Children’s Bereavement Art Group collaborative—Mercy Healthcare and Sutter Health—recognition for the “People Helping People” Business Award.
- Five professional art therapists and over 30 volunteers currently staff the Children’s Bereavement Art Group, offering groups in midtown Sacramento, Roseville, and Auburn.
- Children's Bereavement Art Group celebrates its 25th Anniversary in April 2010. The program has served over 9000 children and their families in the last 25 years.
How to Register
The Children’s Bereavement Art Group is free to children in Sacramento and surrounding communities. Children must be between the ages of four and sixteen and have experienced the death of a significant person—parent, sibling, grandparent or other—within the last year.
The program is offered at multiple sites in the greater Sacramento area. For more information or to register a child, contact:
- Peggy Gulshen, Program Coordinator, Sutter Cancer Center 2800 L. Street, #400, Sacramento, CA 95816 (916) 454-6555
- Ashley Oldenburg, MA, Roseville CBAG Intake Coordinator,Sutter Care at Home Roseville Hospice, 3001 Lava Ridge Court Suite 320, Roseville, CA 96661, (916) 787-7174
Read "Nurturing Memories/Healing Grief," an article about grief support.
Click on "Children" for articles relating to children and grief. Includes links to several other sites of interest.
A resource site for grieving children and families.
Information on summer camp programs for children who have or had a parent with cancer, including Camp Watanda, located in Nevada City and run by UC Davis students.
The Children and Grief section includes articles for adults who are helping children or adolescents through grief, stories for children, and links to other resources.
- CBAG Bibliography
Books about Death & Grief: Written for Children
Coping and Managing Grief Through The Holidays
Learn More about Grief Through The Holidays
Helping Children Cope with Suicide Loss
Learn More about Suicide Loss