Four Hilmar schools will participate in Jessica’s House recognition of national Children’s Grief Awareness Day on Nov. 21. Students and staff are encouraged to wear blue to school this day as blue is the nationally designated grief awareness color. Jessica’s House is a Turlock-based organization that provides grief support to children, teens, young adults and their families.

“Children’s Grief Awareness Day seeks to bring attention to the fact that support can often make all the difference in the life of a grieving child,” said Brad Quillen, director of chaplaincy and education at Jessica’s House. “The day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the painful impact that the death of a family member can have in the life of a child and how grief support can make a difference.

Hilmar siblings Claudia Trujillo (age 8), Mareli Trujillo (age 11), and Gilda Gaytan (age 16) will be among those participating in the special event. The siblings participate in Jessica’s House school-based grief support groups offered in the Hilmar schools.

On August 2017, their mother, Rosalva Rivera, died of lung cancer at the young age of 43. The siblings were referred to Jessica’s House shortly after.

“In the Jessica’s House group, when we start the meeting there is a question of the day,” shared Gilda. “One question was, ‘What is your favorite memory together?’ and I shared that it was my 15th birthday party, the last birthday we celebrated together.” Claudia shared in group that her mom’s favorite food was enchiladas, and Mareli recalls an art project where they traced their hands to recall happy times with their mom.

“One in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18,” said Melissa Ahlem, school and community outreach coordinator for Jessica’s House. Ahlem leads school-based grief support within the Hilmar school district and is coordinating the Nov. 21 special event.

Jessica’s House provides peer support groups and school-based support groups for grieving children, teens, young adults and their families. In addition, they offer a Crisis Response Team that serves alongside schools, organizations, law enforcement and emergency responders in times of critical incidences involving children.