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Good Grief Program

For more than 20 years the Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center, has offered trainings, information, and consultative services to the educators, professionals and families who are uniquely positioned to support children as they face significant loss. Based on the premise that with crisis comes an opportunity to develop, strengthen, and master coping skills, the mission of Good Grief is to promote children's resiliency in times of need. This is achieved through equipping children and the adults that support them with developmentally-informed knowledge, language, and strategies that will assist them in positively coping with their grief.

Promoting Resiliency in Urban Youth: A Multidimensional Bereavement Pilot Partnership of the Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center

In Collaboration with Boston Public Schools, the Promoting Resiliency in Urban Youth pilot is a collaborative effort to bring Good Grief's replicable model of school-based grief support services to the diverse student population of inner city Boston. This partnership, funded through the generous support of the New York Life Foundation, seeks to strengthen and sustain the school environment as a place of safety and security for bereaved youth and their families. Similar to many urban cities, children and youth living in inner-city Boston are disproportionately affected by stressors like poverty, chronic homelessness, and food insecurity. These stressors are often exacerbated and amplified by exposure to trauma and loss. Many of these children live in resource deserts, where needed services and supports go unmet. The Promoting Resiliency partnership eliminates this distance through bringing bereavement support into an environment where children and youth are almost every day: their school. The partnership empowers school staff through grief education and training, resulting in educators who feel effective in responding to the needs of grieving students. The pilot includes:

  • Several 8-week, closed Circle bereavement support groups for referred students
  • Grief and Loss 101 training for Educators and School Staff
  • Crisis Team Training and Protocol Development
  • Ongoing Consultation and Support

The Promoting Resiliency in Urban Youth is currently being piloted at select Boston Public School sites. If you would like more information about how to replicate this work at your school, please contact us at 617-414-4005.

Consultation and Information

Experiencing significant loss, including the death of someone close to you, if often overwhelming and disorienting. The Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center strives to provide culturally-competent and developmentally-informed information and tailored resources and referrals. If you are a parent/caregiver or provider who is in need of community based resources or information please contact us at 617-414-4005.

For families who receive their care at Boston Medical Center and are in need of further consultation, providers may make referrals directly to the program. Good Grief staff will provide in-person individualized consultation with the goal of assisting and empowering caregivers in responding to their child's unique needs.

Trainings and Workshops

The Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center believes that in the crisis of loss lies an opportunity for developing and strengthening coping skills in all children. By accomplishing the four psychological tasks of understanding, grieving, commemorating and moving forward, children and adolescents can experience more positive coping that will empower them when facing subsequent losses.  Our principal work seeks to train educators and school staff, as well as assist them in developing protocols or plans of action before a crisis occurs. While more information about our specific trainings are listed below, please note that these can be individualized to meet the needs of your organization.

  • Grief and Loss 101 for Educators
    • This workshop trains teachers and school staff to be ready to support and assist students through a crisis involving loss. Too often schools are forced to utilize outside counseling services or crisis intervention teams who are unfamiliar to the student body and assist only those students who actively seek out their services. The Good Grief Program's Grief and Loss 101 training for educators is a preemptive tool that can be utilized to support all students. In this training, we will explore the four psychological tasks of grieving: Understanding, Grieving, Commemorating and Moving Forward. Through this interactive training educators and school staff will not only gain critical knowledge and skills, but have an opportunity to develop and apply them. Topics will include myths and inhibitors to the mourning process; how children understand death differently as they develop; how grief "looks" different in children; the power of school-based commemoration; how to identify children who are struggling with the tasks of grieving and how to intervene.  
  • Crisis Team Protocol Development and Training
    • While it is the hope that schools will never have to encounter a significant crisis or loss, it is our position that students are best supported when school staff is well prepared before a crisis arises.  The Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center offers a Crisis Team Training that builds upon any existing crisis planning, providing an actionable protocol that can be easily implemented in the wake of a crisis. This training prepares a designated school crisis team to assist students and faculty with the psychological issues that confront them at the time of loss and long after. This interactive training provides the school crisis team with an opportunity to learn collaboratively, a prerequisite for working together in addressing stressful crisis.

Some of the questions we will address together include:

  • What constitutes a "crisis"?
  • How and when do you inform students of a death?
  • What do you do if the community has information that the family is unwilling to reveal?
  • How do you involve parents?
  • How do you assist the school community in "going on"?
  • How do you effectively deal with the media?

The issues are varied and complex. The crisis protocol planning will address each issue specifically and completely. At the end of the training, each school will have a completed working document in which to implement.

The Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center specializes in tailoring our workshops to fit your particular needs. If you are interested in bringing any of these trainings to our school or agency, please contact us at 617-414-4005.  

Bereavement support groups: The Circle

The Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center aims to provide children and families bereavement support in a safe and understanding environment where they may find individual emotional expression for their loss and develop strategies in managing their grief in ways that promote resiliency and self-esteem. The Circle bereavement support groups offer children and adolescents the opportunity to remember their loved ones and share their grief through creative outlets such as writing, playing, singing and art. The curriculum follows the four stages of mourning as developed by Dr. Sandra Fox, founder of the Good Grief Program. Currently the Circle is being facilitated in partnerships with select Boston Public School sites. If you are interested in bringing Circle bereavement support groups to your area, please contact us at 617-414-4005

Maureen Patterson, MSW, LICSW
Mental Health Clinician
[email protected]

Maureen Patterson is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Mental Health Clinician at the Child Witness to Violence Project (CWVP) at Boston Medical Center. Ms. Patterson brings several years of experience working with traumatized populations to her current work with children and families. She is trained in evidence-based treatments, including Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) and the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI). In her work at Child Witness, Ms. Patterson provides therapy to very young children (0-8 years) and their caregivers to ameliorate the impact of exposure to violence and trauma. She has worked with families in a variety of settings including domestic violence shelters, Children's Advocacy Centers, clinic-based settings, and home-based work. In her work with the Good Grief Program, Ms. Patterson brings her varied experience to lead bereavement support groups, engage in clinical conceptualization for bereaved students, and develop and facilitate school-based trainings. Ms. Patterson has worked with Boston Public Schools to provide trainings that have allowed her to create positive relationships with school staff and administrators centered on best supporting students.  

Lauren Bartolotti, M.A.
Program Coordinator
[email protected]

Lauren Bartolotti is the Program Coordinator for the Autism Program at Boston Medical Center, where she provides clinical supervision to Autism Program staff, and offers direct patient care to children and families impacted by an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Ms. Bartolotti brings her skills as a trainer and programmatic manager to her role with the Good Grief Program. Ms. Bartolotti's educational background is in psychology and clinical child development.  She has had several years of experience working with families, having been a kindergarten teacher in an integrated school setting, as well as supporting low-income and diverse populations under the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative as an in-home family therapist.  Within this role, Lauren served clients of all ages, from young children in early intervention, to adolescents with emotional disturbances, many whom had faced significant complex losses. Lauren has robust clinical experience from her work as a clinical intern at both the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, RI.

Maria Trozzi, M.Ed

For the past 20 years, Maria Trozzi has directed the nationally renowned Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center, and her credentials and expertise have established her as one of the foremost experts in the country on resilience as families, schools and communities face crises.

Since 1991, Maria has lectured nationally to professional audiences in every major city with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton as a regular faculty member of the National Seminar Series. She developed trainings for educators and healthcare professional's that focuses on promoting resilience in the face of loss via strategies that strengthen coping skills for families, institutions and communities. Immediately following the attacks on September 11th, Maria expanded her work to include providing developmentally informed consultation, support, and care to families as they face significant loss, work that continued to support families within the city of Boston, and nationally as crisis arose.  
After Boston's Marathon bombing, she provided crisis debriefing to the health care first responders as well as nearby affected schools and community organizations. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, she provided consultations, lectures and training to schools affected. She has provided crisis consultation after Columbine at Littleton, Colorado, Hurricane Katrina, at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11 and in Grenada following Hurricane Ivan. Most recently, Maria provided individual and group consultation and training workshops to Naval Special Warfare operators (SEALS) and families pre- and post- deployment, as well as monthly support sessions for their loved once during the first month of deployment.

Maria's interest in bereavement expands to the grief families' experience when a child is diagnosed with a disability: the grief that keeps on giving.  Her research is focused on identifying grief touch points – predictable times in a disabled child's development when parents' grief is exacerbated.  Maria's model for professionals and parents has taken this grief 'out of the closet' for both affected families and the clinicians that treat them.

She is a frequent contributor to both print and electronic media. She has appeared with Dr. Brazelton as co-host of his national television show "What Every Baby Knows" several times as well as several national news programs including "Larry King Live", Early Show, CNN, NBC, ABC.

Her first book, Talking With Children About Loss, was published by Putnam-Penguin and continues to be an essential reference for parents and professionals. She has authored several chapters in pediatric and academic textbooks, including research recently published in the December, 2012, Journal of Palliative Medicine.
Maria provides guidance and consultation to Good Grief staff and continues to maintain a private practice dedicated to helping families face stressful life events.

Ways Adults Can Help Bereaved Children: Tips and Strategies

Death challenges the coping skills of children and adolescents. How can we adults help children develop and strengthen coping skills that will help them when they experience a death or other significant losses? The following suggestions may help you respond to such crises and prepare for future times of loss and grief in your classroom

Talking to Children about Loss: Words, Strategies, and Wisdom to Help Children Cope with Death, Divorce, and Other Difficult Times by Maria Trozzi Trozzi with Kathy Massimini; Foreword by T. Berry Brazelton, MD

What parents, caregivers, and educators need to know to help grieving children through the mourning and bereavement process.
Bereavement specialist Maria Trozzi has listened to children and adolescents who have endured all kinds of losses and sustained many tough times. She has learned to understand what youngsters say and what they don't say. They can't have healthy grief without adult care and support. Through a myriad of stories in this book, Maria teaches us how to interpret kids' words, thoughts, and feelings and how caring adults can help children face all losses in a way that builds resilience.

Call: 617.414.4005
Fax: 617.414.3661

Administrative Office
Boston Medical Center
Department of Pediatrics
Good Grief Program
Vose Hall, 426
72 E Concord St.
Boston, MA 02118