March 26, 2013
/PRNewswire/ -- More than two million children and teens in the US who are grieving the deaths of their moms or dads are at much greater risk for psychological and behavioral problems, according to Family Lives On Foundation.
The national nonprofit brings joy and comfort to grieving children, teens and families through its unique Tradition Fulfillment program. "Continuing a family's cherished traditions can help these children move from survivors to thrivers," says board member
, Ph.D., a nationally recognized grief management specialist. "Maintaining traditions is a valuable therapeutic tool that allows children to move beyond a mom or dad's death story to celebrate the life story."
The organization was founded in 1997 as Mommy's Light Lives On Fund
, serving children whose mothers had died or were terminally ill. After the successful launch of the Daddy's Light pilot program in 2012, Mommy's Light expanded the scope of its services to include children ages 3 to 18 in the US who are grieving the deaths of their dads. "We felt it was incumbent upon us to expand our reach to serve not only maternally bereaved children, but all grieving children," says
, President of Family Lives On Foundation's Board of Directors. "We have kids in our program whose most cherished family tradition is going to a football game like they used to with their dad, or baking Mom's famous banana bread."
, two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, teamed up with the organization to launch Daddy's Light.
. In 2009, he and his four brothers grieved the death of their father from pancreatic cancer. "I miss him every day," says Jackson. "I know what a tragedy it is for families who have to deal with the death of a parent. It's important to keep the memories and traditions alive."
"When it comes to fulfilling a tradition, I couldn't even imagine how to attempt to do it with the level and detail that Family Lives On does," says
. His son Matthew remembers his mom, who died in 2009 of non-smoker's lung cancer, by continuing their cupcake-baking tradition every year on her birthday. "I never even thought of the idea until I heard of it," says his dad. "It's brilliant. We won't want to ever stop because it's sacred."
Family Lives On has fulfilled nearly 1000 traditions like Matthew's, and addresses three critical, and oftentimes unmet, needs in child and family bereavement support: intra-family connection and communication, ongoing support, and celebrating the life story. The organization also provides free bereavement education resources to families, healthcare providers, school counselors, bereavement professionals and others.