GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — The numbers are staggering. One in 13 Colorado children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they turn 18.
A local charity spent part of the weekend reaching out to Colorado families going through that heartbreak. They gathered Sunday in the foothills above Golden for a family remembrance walk.
“I struggle with ‘am I remembering my person enough?’ And so doing things like this is a great way to bring that back into the fold and just honor your person,” said Logan Heffner, a volunteer with Shimmering Wings, the charity that organized the event.
The nonprofit also hosts Camp Erin Denver, a summer grief camp for those who have suffered a childhood loss.
The group hiked near North Table Mountain and answered questions designed to spur conversations about their grief.
“What is something that helps you when you’re sad?” asked Barb Kamlet, executive director of Shimmering Wings.
“Having my pets and my fidgets,” a child answered.
Freddy, a fourth grader, walked to remember his mom.
“Well she had a blood clot,” he told FOX31.
She died of a pulmonary embolism in the summer of 2022. Freddy is now being cared for by relatives.
“Our whole world has changed. We have two kids to look after and try to do right by them. Death is a really taboo subject, you don’t talk about it a lot. So, it’s nice to see that other people are feeling the same things you’re feeling,” his aunt, Kelsey Orten, said.
Statistics show about 96,000 Colorado children will experience the death of a parent, brother or sister before they reach adulthood. Research also shows the loss of a close relative can derail childhood development, lead to behavior issues and cause problems at school.
Receiving grief care, experts say, is crucial.
“A lot of kids were worried their other parent might die. A lot of parents and guardians worried about how their kids are going to do in the future. That’s the reason we ask questions because someone is going to say something that someone else is feeling,” Kamlet said.
And what better place to get that kind of care than in the Colorado outdoors?
“Everyone just feels more comfortable, relaxed in the outdoors,” Heffner said.
“There’s something soothing and healing and peaceful, especially this time of year, to be out there,” Kamlet said.
Shimmering Wings is looking for volunteers to help with their grief support services. To get involved, visit their website.