Bridges: A Support Group for the Whole Family

If you have lived in Calvert County for any amount of time, you have probably heard PSA announcements or seen flyers throughout the county for Calvert Hospice’s Bereavement programs for children: Camp Phoenix and Bridges. But unless you have suffered a loss in your family, you may not know much about either one. The new session of Bridges starts on February 25, and we thought it was time to tell you a little bit about it. I sat down with Melinda Ruppert, our Bereavement Coordinator, who shared information about the program and the benefits to grieving families in our community.

What is Bridges?

Bridges is a grief support group for children and adults that runs for 8 consecutive Thursdays. Children are placed in age-appropriate groups, and adults have a group of their own that meets at the same time. While children spend time learning different coping skills and learning how to connect with each other through shared grief, adults learn techniques for dealing with grieving children and coping skills for their own grief. They form new friendships with other participants who are in the same situation and gain access to several helpful grief resources.

The children’s groups use creative outlets and various techniques to explore grief and teach coping skills. Facilitators lead activities in arts & crafts, play games with the children, encourage children to share stories of their loved one, and provide much needed play time. There is a special Volcano Room filled with balls, hula hoops, and other items that help kids blow off excess steam and work off some of the energy they build up in group. The children have the opportunity to form new friendships with other kids who understand what they are going through – something that is hard to find in most social settings.

Who can participate?

We have groups for children ages 6 – 17. Adult family members attend with their children. Losses do not have to be recent; we understand that each person’s grief journey is unique. However, the group is specifically targeted to those with children. We offer many other grief support groups in the community for adults only.

How do I apply?

You can download the Bridges Application and Assessment on our website: calverthospcie.org. Melinda Ruppert will review the application and meet with you to determine whether the program is a good fit for you. Applications for the next session must be in by February 15. We do ask that you commit to coming to the group each week. Weekly attendance strengthens the bond between participants and provides you with the help you need.

If you would like more information about Bridges or our other Bereavement Programs, call Melinda Ruppert at 410-535-0892 ext. 2201, email mruppert@calverthospice.org, or visit the Children’s Programs page under the Grief Services tab of our website.

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