The mission of Common Ground is to provide support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death can come together and share their experiences as they begin the journey through the grief process.
Common Ground is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Manasquan, New Jersey. Our “home” is a beautiful and charming house that features rooms specifically designed to be utilized by the participants of our program. Each room offers a different modality for children and teens to express their feelings in age-appropriate ways. These include our talking circle, music, art, sand-play, puppetry, gross motor activity and full scale “play” hospital rooms.
Situated behind our house is a memory garden that offers families a way to honor and stay connected to their loved one. Families may purchase a personalized “memory stone” to be placed in our garden or they may keep their stone to be placed in a location of their choosing.
Our program was derived from the peer support model pioneered by The Dougy Center of Portland, Oregon.
We provide open-ended peer support groups for children ages 6-18 as well as a young adult support group for ages 19-30. We believe in supporting the family as a whole and therefore offer a concurrent adult support group which meets at the same time, for the caregiver of the child or teen who is participating in our program. Groups meet every other week in the evening. Our services are provided free of cost to participating families. Children and teens are assigned to groups according to age.
All of our groups are facilitated by trained volunteers, who must complete a comprehensive training program to prepare them for the sensitive nature of our program.
We also offer training sessions to local agencies, organizations, and schools in need of our expertise as well as educational materials about children and grief.
Childhood and teen grief are widely misunderstood and under-recognized. Due to the lack of on-going support services for grieving children and teens, Lynn Snyder, a licensed professional counselor, who specializes in the field of childhood bereavement, saw a need in the community for services focused directly on the needs of grieving children and teens. During this time, there were also a series of teen and young adult suicide deaths in the area.
With a dream and passion to provide a nurturing and caring place where children with similar experiences of loss could come together to share their stories and begin to heal, Common Ground Grief Center was born.
In 2009, the first group met in the basement of a local church with just three children and their caregivers. By the end of the first year, the space was quickly outgrown and Common Ground was fortunate to move to it’s current “home” in Manasquan, NJ.
We have served hundreds of children and teens over the years and continue to grow at a rapid pace. We are rooted in the belief that being with others who are experiencing a similar loss and being able to share stories, feelings, and memories with others who “get it,” fosters the healing process.
We believe in the following principles:
- Grief is a natural reaction to loss
- The duration and intensity of grief are unique for each individual
- Grief is a life-long process that gets re-visited throughout one’s life
- A safe and supportive environment assists in the healing process
- Grief is not something to be “cured of,” “fixed,” “taken away,” or “recovered from.”