Pathfinders: Support for Grieving Children

Pathfinders began its work in 1993. It offers a caring, safe environment where children, teens and their caregivers utilize peer support and grief education to creatively express, share and grow through the healing process.

The need for a grieving children’s program in the Bangor area was identified by Maria Brountas and the late Barbara Eames. In 1993, Maria and Barbara along with parents and other teachers, created Pathfinders. In 1994, the first session was held. The semi-annual ten-week sessions are “closed-group” sessions (as opposed to a drop-in group), allowing a bond of trust to develop among members of each support group. Children are grouped by age: 3-5; 6-8; and so on. Parents/caregivers are grouped according to the type of loss they’ve suffered, i.e., parent with spouse loss. Within each hour and a half time frame, the various groups meet, discuss and engage in activities that help them process their grief.

Enormous change occurs within the family structure when there is a death. Pathfinders promotes healthy grieving and healing within the family by offering children and their caregivers varied techniques to cope with that change. Through peer support discussions, family communication is encouraged for all participants by helping them each engage in their own grieving process in a healthy manner. And for adults, it also helps them to attend to the needs of their grieving children through learned techniques and strategies.

Pathfinders is a program of Bangor Area Visiting Nurses/Hospice of Eastern Maine. The semi-annual sessions are held in the Bangor region.