New York Life Foundation Supports Creation of The Speaking Grief Project at WPSU Penn State

Monday, January 27, 2020

New York Life Foundation Supports Creation of The Speaking Grief Project at WPSU Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When someone dies, a gap is created in the lives of those who loved that person, especially when he or she is an immediate family member. The death can create a lonely and broken space, and often people don’t know how to support those who are grieving. A charitable grant of $585,000 from the New York Life Foundation to WPSU Penn State will be used to help change that by opening a dialogue in communities through the creation of The Speaking Grief Project — a multiplatform project that will be used to elevate a national conversation around grief by creating a space for the journey toward recovery.

Maria Collins, vice president of New York Life Foundation, said childhood bereavement has been its philanthropic focus for more than a decade.

“WPSU Penn State is an award-winning leader in documentary production and known for telling complex stories that address significant societal issues in accessible and compassionate ways,” Collins said. “Together we hope to raise awareness of childhood bereavement by offering a candid look at the grieving process by elevating the conversation about grief to a national audience through a compelling and relatable visual experience.”

WPSU’s “Speaking Grief” documentary will walk participants through a journey of grief, seen through the experiences of several families in Houston, Texas; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Collins, New York; and Philadelphia, Collegeville and Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Carmichael Khan and his daughter, Asia, are part of one of those families. The Khans share their story about life after the sudden loss of their wife and mother, Rose. Asia was 14 at the time, and Carmichael said he felt broken and was suddenly faced with raising his daughter on his own. Bo’s Place, a bereavement center offering free grief support in Houston, played a role in the Khans’ healing process.  

“I had a new role; I had to be mom and dad. I wanted Asia’s life to be stable, to not have to deal with a post-trauma event — to be able to maintain without distress. I felt my heart was broken into by this sudden loss of Rose, the loss of expectations about the future,” Khan said. “Recovery is a journey, you are the walking wounded, but there is always hope. I believe I would not be where I am if it were not for the people who assisted me through it. I want to use my experience to make a conscious choice to help others.”

Cristina Chipriano, director of Spanish Programs and Outreach at Bo’s Place, said grief could be a lonely journey — often taken one day and one hour at a time. She said she hopes that through WPSU’s Speaking Grief Project, grief will lose its taboo.

“Acknowledging that grief is a life-long journey, we work with our families to establish ways to find connection with their person who died, while establishing a new normal. For parents, modeling a healthy grief process is the most important thing you can do for your bereaved child,” Chipriano said...

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