As pandemic-related restrictions ended, the Grief Center of New Mexico began segueing from virtual to in-person support groups, only to find more people calling for services and not enough bereavement facilitators to lead the groups.
“The building at our new location was still being remodeled and we actually got everything completed and opened our doors on Sept. 6,” Suzie Blake, the center’s development director, said Monday.
To meet the increasing need, the center is holding a three-day volunteer facilitator training session in January at their Albuquerque offices. The training, which unfolds over 14 hours, is $45, which goes toward the cost of conducting background checks and training materials, Blake said.
“By leading grief support groups, the volunteers will help children, their caregivers and adults talk about their feelings of grief, give them an outlet to process their grief and understand that they are not alone,” she said. “They also learn coping skills for dealing with the loss of that important person in their life.”
It’s particularly important for children to be in a group with other kids, “who are going through the same thing,” Blake said.
The volunteers, who must be at least 21 years old, train exclusively to lead groups, rather than conduct one-on-one facilitation. They will be expected to lead support groups twice a month and commit to at least a year of service, she said.
There is no cost to the people who receive the grief services.
The bereavement facilitators are not counselors and do not have to be licensed by the state, Blake said. The training is, however, accredited by the National Association of Social Workers and can be counted toward certified continuing education credits for social workers and counselors.
For professionals seeking only CEU credits and who do not intend to volunteer at the Grief Center, the training fee is $260.
The organization was founded more than 21 years ago by a group of people who had experienced deaths in their families. Unable to find grief support services for their children, they formed the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico. In March, the word children was dropped from the organization’s name to more accurately reflect the wide-ranging age of people who seek and receive grief support services, Blake said.