Friday, February 25, 2011

Young Adult Bereavement Art Group / Art Therapy in Action

Ceramic Grief Mask, Hannah Hunter ©2009
It's February and that means time for the winter session of YABAG--or "The Young Adult Bereavement Art Group". It began in 2009 as a collaboration across disciplines to serve young adults ages 17-24, who have lost a loved one. It has grown from an isolated observation into a dedicated vision of how to best serve this population niche, sponsored by UC Davis Children's Hospital and UC Davis Hospice.

The group started when someone in our Children's Bereavement Committee commented that there were no art therapy bereavement support groups for people this age. The heads at the long conference table all turned toward me. Me? Didn't I have enough going on? However the prospect of beginning a program is something I find irresistible and I was soon on board.

A neonatal nurse, pediatric social worker, hospice bereavement coordinator (tongue twisting titles-good peeps) and I began to meet and over a period of several months and planned the group structure, curriculum and found funding. Our first group met in February of 2009 and my world cracked open.

I and my co-facilitator, a man of great humor and compassion, found ourselves in the presence of persons who were grieving losses by more causes than we could have imagined. We discovered that what often gets individuals of this age to a support group is the confluence of tragic circumstances.

What we also discovered was the openness of these young people show toward one another. Once these young people show up, what follows is honest and inevitable. Our program takes them and us through an 8 week journey of art and talking and listening, all designed to parallel the grief process.

We've worked hard to spread the word about this program; seeding the local universities, community colleges and high schools with fliers and reaching out to police departments, therapists and social workers.

It takes time for word to take hold and grow roots. YABAG is offered free of charge and meets from from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., beginning Monday, February 28th and concluding Monday, April 11th.

If you know of anyone in the Sacramento area who might benefit from this work, please contact us for more information at 916-734-1139.


  1. Hi Hannah
    This is a magnificent wonderful that you stepped up and said YES! when it was proposed.

    I sent out a's an approach that can help so many heal their hearts.


  2. Bless you and your peeps for doing such meaningful work.

  3. what a fantastic program!

    and since I'm sure you don't have enough going on ;) if you think you have time I'd love for you to check this out:

  4. Wow, thanks Donna. Not being a tweeter, I never thought of that.

    Thank you Lynn.

    Phoenix--Thank you--I'll take a look.

  5. Good luck, I know the group will grow, your groups always do!
    You might also try posting in the E version of the UC Davis Aggie

  6. Your devotion to healing is very touching. Thanks for making the world an easier place to be.

  7. Hi Hannah, congrats on this very fine and much needed project. I admire you and all your group for stepping up to the plate, so to speak, and helping these young adults.

  8. Such beautiful and important work you do in the world Hannah, I am deeply honored to be able to peek into your world of compassionate giving.

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  10. What a splendid idea Meredith!

    Patty--thank you--I love doing it and I often feel like a spy in the house of medecine!

    Liz--thank you--the big victory is the hospital's acknowledgement that art as well as medicine is a healing force.

    Laura, thank you for your support and encouragement--good words to hear.

  11. What a gift you and yours are sending into your community with this incredible program so filled with love.

  12. You must be a very strong giving person- what a wonderful program - art is healing and so important.

  13. Beth--I so appreciate your supportive words.

    Donna--Thank you for that compliment. The power of image making; not to be underestimated:)

  14. Blessing to you all.
    The word will spread and if its a smaller group the first time around, you might enjoy the intimacy. Wish I could be part of it.