Ele’s Place Helps Grieving Children in Grand Rapids

Have you heard of Ele’s Place? They are our 2014 Cause to Champion, and you may have seen them highlighted on our Facebook page, or even out and about in our community. What Ele’s Place offers is beyond valuable to us and our community.

Ele’s Place is a healing center for grieving children and teens.

They provide a safe, welcoming space to share feelings and experiences, and learn to heal after the death of a parent, sibling, or other loved one.

Ele’s Place has three locations (Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids). Ele’s Place – Grand Rapids is located on Michigan Avenue, just east of downtown. They currently serve 23 West Michigan families weekly on Thursday nights.

Ele’s Place supports the family, too.

Each Thursday night begins with the families having dinner together. This provides a comfortable bonding time for everyone, and a positive way to share experiences and support each other. After dinner, families break into groups: adults gather by type of loss and children by age. Each group is led by a facilitator or clinician and is guided through activities or exercises designed to express their feelings, relieve aggression and learn coping skills.

On a recent Tour of the Heart, I heard a quote that really stuck with me.

“If a child can love, a child can grieve.”

It’s so true. It’s easy to think a child isn’t grieving, despite a family loss. Maybe you think they’re too young to understand. Maybe you think they’re “over it” just because they’re not talking about it. But the truth is, grief comes in many shapes and sizes. Children may not have the words to express how they’re feeling, or they may bottle it up for fear of not being “cool.” When these feelings are not dealt with, they can lead to depression, violence, substance abuse and more.

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And this is why Ele’s Place is so valuable to our community. They are here to help us deal with hard, serious stuff. Stuff we probably have no idea how to handle on our own.

Take for example this mask. It was made by a high schooler as part of an exercise to show how they look on the outside vs. how they feel on the inside.

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It’s such a powerful illustration of what grief can look like. And I’m so glad Ele’s Place has the tools, knowledge, and heart to help.

Ele’s Place programs and services are free. To enroll your child, call 616-301-1605. You can also click here for more information.

Three Things You Need To Know About Ele’s Place:

  1. If you have a question, call. Clinical staff are available to answer questions and provide some guidance and support. 616-301-1605
  2. Kent District Library has picked up more than half of their recommended books on childhood grief. Visit any KDL location to learn more.
  3. They need our help. Dinner is served weekly and is entirely donated by the community. In addition, they have a wish list you can view here.

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