Angela Melvin is with Valerie’s House, a non-profit organization in the Naples area of southwest Florida. She’s the founder, and Valerie was her mother who was killed in a car accident 25 years ago. There were no services at that time, and very few now. She knows exactly what it’s like to be a grieving child, and is now committed to making sure no other child is in a similar situation. She recommends helping children cherish the memory of their loved one. Children shouldn’t be ashamed or like they’ll upset their surviving parent if they bring up the loss.

Adults need to help children by creating avenues where memories can come alive. Children need to be able to talk about their loved one as they wish. Those stories should bring up happiness and joyful memories. Avoiding the painful side of these memories takes time, and it’s a conscious effort that kids can tackle with their peers or with the adults in their lives.

Support in Small Towns

Dr. Heidi Horsley asks about access to resources, and it’s surprising how few support groups there are in smaller or rural towns. Even in today’s digital era, there are few in-person options for support. Online resources can be great, but they don’t resonate with everybody. Valerie’s House is an example of a much needed support group in a region that has limited access—especially for children.

Children often grieve in different ways than parents, and it can be challenging for adults to gauge if and when kids are grieving. This can cause a disparity, and make adults push children to talk or grieve in a certain way. The goal of Valerie’s House is to provide a safe, welcoming space for children and families where all types of grief methods are supported.


Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is a licensed psychologist, social worker, and bereaved sibling. She co-hosts the award-winning weekly cable television show and podcast, Open to Hope. Dr. Heidi is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, and an award-winning author, who has co-authored eight books, and serves on the United Nations Global Mental Health Task Force. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for the Tragedy Assistance Program, the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and Peace of Mind Afghanistan. She served on the National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, and for 10 yrs. worked on a Columbia University research study looking at traumatic loss over time in families who lost a firefighter in the World Trade Center.

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