Meet This Year's  ONECares Beneficiary

Since 1993, The Sharing Place has been fulfilling its mission to “provide a safe and caring environment for grieving children, teens, and their families to share their feelings while healing themselves.” This is achieved through a support group model that emphasizes acknowledging any and all feelings related to grief, connection with others experiencing grief, and channeling feelings through art, play, and discussion.

Gerberta Black’s Story

On a rainy Sunday afternoon in March of 2020 our strong, talented, brilliant son, Herbie, died by suicide. He was only 15 years old. Herbie is one of 10 children, and each of his siblings was grieving his loss differently, yet all at the same time. I was overwhelmed by Herbie’s death and trying to make sure that each of my other children would be able to express their grief in ways that were healthy. I worried about what the long-term effects of dealing with Herbie’s premature death would be on each of his siblings, all while trying to deal with my own formidable grief, along with my husband’s.

Some of us tried therapy in some form, but the 4 children who still lived at home with us needed more. I had several people mention that I should try to get our family into The Sharing Place, but I resisted the idea because it was located an hour’s drive away. After some time, I was desperate for anything that might help my children to open up and talk about Herbie’s death, so I sent an email to The Sharing Place and got our 4 youngest kids, ages 17, 13, 11 and 9 on the waiting list. Over a few months’ time they were all fortunate enough to join grief groups.

Our oldest 3 children were resistant to going but agreed to attend 3 times, which I figured was better than not talking about their brother at all. To my surprise, after the third visit all 4 kids were excited to continue attending. When asked what changed their minds, no one could really say. They just liked being there. They liked being with the other kids their age. They enjoyed the activities. Over time, one child expressed that outside of The Sharing Place, they felt like “that one kid” whose brother had died. At The Sharing Place, everyone had experienced the death of someone that they loved, so they could all relate to each other.

The most meaningful thing for our 17-year-old daughter was when another young woman whose brother had died by suicide joined her group. The two of them felt comfortable talking with each other because they had gone through the same thing. Each knew that the other understood. That was invaluable. Our youngest son likes the activities and unique ways of expressing his grief at The Sharing Place. Another son shared that in his group he learned to better recognize how he was grieving and feeling and how to better deal with it – and that every emotion is okay. Our youngest daughter looks forward to the interactions with the other kids in her group. The Sharing Place is a safe place to express how each of us is really feeling, with others who are grieving as well. The 1-hour drive home has become a time to talk about what we have each learned in our groups that night. The Sharing Place is helping us all to heal.

– Gerberta Black