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Healing Together: How Guardian Lane Helps Children Cope With Loss

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at October 10, 2021

When Kristina Jones was seven, she lost her dad to cancer. To help process her loss, she went to therapy and grieved with her family. But, reflecting back on her experience, Jones wishes she had more of a support network. 

“It was very traumatic. I never got the help I needed to process what had happened. My school didn’t give me any type of support. They just gave us a Christmas tree and expected me to go back to normal,” said Jones. 

Now Jones is committed to making sure other children who experience grief won’t go through it alone. She started Guardian Lane to provide healing resources to children who are dealing with loss. Guardian Lane is committed to providing support right when kids need it while creating a community of children united by the loss of a loved one. 

In 2020, while reflecting on her own grieving, Jones started thinking about the power of a social healing network for children. She set out to research if such a network existed and came away shocked to see that most grief support for children was still rooted in in-person services. 

“The options included local grief centers that serve maybe 300 children a year or grief camps, which a child physically has to go to for maybe one week out of the year,” Jones shared. “I don’t know if you’ve experienced grief, but it doesn’t hit on a Thursday at 3 PM.” 

Not only does grief hit at unexpected times, but it also affects a large number of children. In America, an estimated 5.3 million children will grieve the loss of a significant loved one before they turn 18. With the recent wave of COVID deaths, an additional 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or grandparent caregiver. Seeing how many children are dealing with grief was a wake-up call for Jones. She began to talk to grief counselors to see how she could support children dealing with loss. 

Through her talks with counselors, Jones learned about two things that are really important when working with a grieving child: knowing what children are feeling and getting a child to engage with and release their feelings through play. 

“The grief counselors said they start with the emotions of the child, which helps them understand what projects that they can do next,” explained Jones. “But on the flip side, I asked over 500 grieving parents, do you know how your child is feeling? 75% said they didn’t know. A problem that exists with grief is that when children hold it in, that’s when the problems start. They hold in their feelings because they don’t want to upset their families or they don’t even know how to express what they’re feeling.” 

With this in mind, Jones started to build Guardian Lane, a children’s mental health platform that is innovating how children access grief counseling. Instead of waiting to go to a grief camp in the summer, grieving children can access on-demand content that they can tap into whenever they need support. Through videos and projects created by grief counselors, kids can process their feelings and connect with others. By making these connections, kids realize that they are not alone. 

In addition to on-demand resources, Guardian Lane also provides one-on-one telecounseling with grief counselors. While families can sign up on the platform individually, Guardian Lane also works with schools, knowing that they can provide support when students need it most. Parents can log in and see what their children are interacting with most in the platform, such as if they keep watching the same activities or the same counselors. 

Above all, Jones hopes that Guardian Lane will help children to deal with grief in healthy ways and prevent potential mental or physical health issues that can affect adults with unprocessed grief. By normalizing grief and teaching kids strategies for processing it, Jones is committed to changing the landscape of grief counseling. 

“We want to let children know that they’re not alone,” said Jones, “We want children knowing that it’s okay to express what they’re feeling and that there are other kids in this world who are experiencing feeling the same thing that they are.”

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