Grief counselor Katy Thiel poses with some of the artwork local children have made to help cope with the loss of a loved one. Thiel and other counselors with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association are starting a new support group for 12- to 15-year-olds who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Photo by Scott Franz

Grief counselor Katy Thiel poses with some of the artwork local children have made to help cope with the loss of a loved one. Thiel and other counselors with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association are starting a new support group for 12- to 15-year-olds who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

New support group for teenagers grieving loss of a loved one being formed in Steamboat

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— When the words aren’t there and the pain keeps building up inside, Katy Thiel is there to help.

The grief counselor for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association shows children there are many healthy ways to let grief out and make a loss more manageable.

“Sometimes, you don’t have the words to talk about it,” she said as she showed off masks, paintings and photographs local children have made to express the loss of a loved one. “Sometimes, it’s through painting or clay. Some kids are musical. Writing helps. And a lot of our kids in Steamboat are athletes. Sports are a great way to release it.”

She said without these expressions, many children keep it inside.

“If you don’t let it out and express it, it’s going to build up more and more and more, and it’s going to explode at some point,” Thiel said. “It’s like road rage.”

Thiel and two other local grief counselors are preparing to start a new support group in Steamboat Springs for youths ages 12 to 15 who are grieving the death of a loved one.

A support group at the same time also will work with the youths’ parents or guardians.

Thiel said the motivation for starting the new group came after she was working in local schools and saw that there were teenagers who had experienced a loss but weren’t talking with anyone about it.

One of the benefits of a support group is to get youths together and having them realize they aren’t alone in trying to cope with a loss, she said.

“It’s not so overwhelming when they learn other kids are going through the same thing,” Thiel said. “They have the same thoughts, fears and sadnesses. We want to connect them with other people. It normalizes things.”

She said she sees calmness in children after they are able to express their loss in a healthy way.

In addition to counseling, the support group will be a place for teenagers to express a loss through artwork.

The groups will be led by Theil and grief counselors Sandy Beran and Jo Anne Grace.

Thiel said specific dates and times are not yet settled, but the group will decide on a schedule that best meets the needs of potential attendees.

Interested parents can call Thiel at 970-871-7628. The program is free, but donations will be accepted.

The support groups will meet at the Rollingstone Respite House.

“Sometimes there are tears, sometimes there aren’t,” Thiel said. “They love having a place to let it all go.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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