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 because of one teacher’s experience with a terminally ill child in her first grade classroom. It was soon realized that a common interest and desire to help grieving children and their families existed within the community. Eastern Maine Medical Center, the area’s largest healthcare facility and Hospice of Eastern Maine enthusiastically embraced the concept of providing support to grieving children. A committee comprised of hospital professionals (i.e. child life specialists and oncology social workers), parents, hospice volunteers, educators, school guidance counselors and representatives of other area support groups was formed to explore the possibility of creating a grieving program for children.
Information in support of establishing a bereavement program in the Bangor area was provided by the Dougy Center, a grieving children’s program, located in Portland, Oregon and The Center for Grieving Children housed in Portland, Maine. In November 1993, a public meeting was held to determine community interest and need. The response was positive and the first Pathfinders session commenced in early February of 1994 and continued for 10 weeks into May. Since 1994, Pathfinders has been offering 10 week sessions, semi-annually in the spring and fall of the year.