By Nina Monsour
“I really miss my dad. I miss his nice warm hugs, his cheesy smile and his funny jokes,” said Micaela.
Losing a family member or significant person in one’s life can be highly traumatic to those affected. Many grieving children feel alone and keep their feelings inside, not wanting to burden parents and other family members.
“We used to go on bike rides, plant flowers together and carve pumpkins on Halloween.” Micaela’s entire world changed when she lost her father.
“After my dad died I was really sad all the time and I would also lose my temper.”
Children and teenagers are oftentimes overwhelmed by the loss of a someone they know. Their peers may not understand their situation, making them feel completely alone.
Grieving children and teens who lack guidance are more likely to perform poorly in school, and even get involved with drug abuse or have suicidal thoughts. In Michigan, one in 12 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18.
Ele’s Place is a nonprofit organization that opens doors to grieving children and teens suffering from a tragic loss. Its mission is to provide free bereavement services that help children find peace and the ability to cope, knowing that they are not alone.
“After going to Ele’s Place, I don’t get as sad and angry as often because I can be open about my feelings about him,” said Micaela.
She is just one of many children benefiting from the many programs offered by Ele’s Place, finding comfort within the organization and those that helped her cope.
Ele’s Place was founded in 1991 and named after Helen Louise Snow Stover, nicknamed Ele, an 11-month-old who died from an illness in 1989. Her family established this organization to support children ages 3-18 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or someone else close to them.
With the help of professionals and volunteers, Ele’s Place provides peer support groups, school-based support programs, clinical consultation, and community outreach and education services. These programs are inclusive, aiming to support all grieving children and teens in Michigan.
“Ele’s Place is an invaluable resource for local families,” said Epic Races CEO Eva Solomon. “We’re thrilled to be able to support the organization in any way we can.”
This is the second consecutive year Ele’s Place is participating in the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon as one of four featured charities. Participants can support Ele’s Place when signing up by directing a designated portion of proceeds to the organization.
“We are excited to participate in the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon to help raise awareness for Ele’s Place,” said Director of Development Bree Arvai. “Creating awareness in support of grieving children and their families is a critical part of what we do and this race helps us to get out in the community and do that.”
Supporting Ele’s Place means supporting children like Micaela who are navigating through feelings of grief and loss. One of Micaela’s favorite things to do at the facility is spend time with the dogs where she could pet them and play with them to feel like she was at home.
“I still miss my Dad a lot,” said Micaela. “I will always miss him. Ele’s Place helped me feel more comfortable thinking about his death and talking about him. Because of Ele’s Place, I know I’m not alone with these feelings, I’m glad Ele’s Place was there for me.”
To register for the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon on behalf of Ele’s Place, visit annarbormarathon.com.