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Grieving Mom Finds Way to Help Others

Susan Evans is an expert at celebrating her daughter Courtney's life. Nearly 18 years ago, Courtney was killed in an automobile accident. Evans has learned to turn her grief around to help other families deal with the loss of loved ones.

"I have gotten way more out of it than I have ever put into it," she said. "Because it gave me a place where I could go and still do my own grief work. I could keep telling Courtney's story."

Evans began volunteering for the Greenwich-based Den for Grieving Kids a year after her daughter died. "I had no idea what I was going into and I think most people would feel that way," Evans said. "I think a lot of people come in just because they'd like to do something with a pretty deep nature. It is very meaningful work because you get quite close to the people you are dealing with."

The Den for Grieving Kids provides a space for families to explore their feelings and emotions after the deaths of loved ones. In bimonthly group sessions, children and their families begin to journey toward healing. To become a group facilitator such as Evans, volunteers must complete a 12-hour training session that involves role-playing, empathetic listening exercises and group work. "As a facilitator at The Den, our job is to listen and send it back so people can hear what they're saying," said Evans.

Her work at The Den is not depressing, she said, "I have laughed harder than I have ever laughed in my whole life in this group. Obviously, there are some horrible moments, but the intensity kind of swings from end of the spectrum to the other."

As a bereaved parent, Evans thought she could bring something useful to the group. "I was using a tough situation in my life in a positive way." For more information about the Den for Grieving Kids, call 203-869-4848.

How have you dealt with the loss of a loved one? Has The Den helped you and your family? What would you suggest to those going through a loss?

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