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Helping Children and Families Navigate Grief

Shironda Brown will graduate in December 2022 with a M.S. in Youth, Family, and Community Sciences as a Certified Family Life Educator. We talked about her passion for helping children navigate and cope with grief and loss from a family science perspective. 

Shironda Brown

What catalyzed your interest in family science and grief coaching?

I have a B.S in Child Development and Family Relations from East Carolina University. Since earning my degree I have worked with children and families in the early childhood community. I believe this population of children need extra care and support to facilitate their development into productive members in society. I must credit my late father as the inspiration for my current path of study. I lost my father at a very young age of seven. That traumatic experience had a profound effect on my life. As a child I didn’t understand the emotions I felt surrounding the event or the feelings that I would later experience as I continued to grow and develop. When I entered the Family Life Education and Coaching Graduate certificate program, it became clear to me that I needed to help those children experiencing the death of a loved one. 

Tell us about your time at NC State. How has it impacted you? Do any faculty, staff, or students stand out who have supported your journey?

While studying at NC State I had the opportunity to revisit a childhood trauma that impacted my life. That traumatic experience became the foundation for my studies. I learned that my trauma is identical to many children in our communities today and those children need help maneuvering their lives due to that trauma. We hear the phrase, children are resilient, all the time and we take for granted that children are individual beings that grow and develop differently. This means that as caregivers and child advocates we must offer the needed resources, support, and love to help our children overcome their trauma and become that resilient child that is capable of finding alternative manners to overcome lifelong challenges in a positive manner. During my journey at NC State I had the opportunity to meet Jenifer Webb. Jennifer and I connected along this path because we found ourselves trying to navigate this educational process as non-traditional students. So together we have allowed God to lead us through this wonderful process and we plan to continue the path he has laid before us.

As part of the Youth, Family, and Community Sciences program, you completed a virtual internship with coaching agency Your Life Helper. What motivated you to intern with this organization? How was the experience meaningful for you?

Your Life Helper is a coaching agency specializing in grief and is owned and operated by Melissa James. Currently, Melissa has only worked with adults experiencing grief and wanted to introduce children/teens into her target population. While conducting my internship I produced six moodle courses, grief newsletters, youth grief intake form, and 25 grief article resources. Grief is an emotion that we never know when it will surface after losing someone close. As adults when this happens some can cope with the emotion while others have a difficult time. As adults if we need help maneuvering through this experience, it only stands to reason that children need help too. It is important to me that we help our children learn the proper coping skills when faced with such a traumatic event. When I decided to work with children I made a vow to help them develop to the best of their abilities and to ensure that they have the social/emotional skills needed to live their best lives. I will not break that vow!

You’re set to graduate in December 2022. What’s up next for you?

As I continue my educational studies I plan to obtain a Thanatology Certificate as well as my Doctoral Degree. The completion of these degrees will allow me to begin coaching children and families that are mourning the loss of a loved one.