On Thursday, March 18, 2021, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton is hosting an important event for children, teens and adults struggling with loss and grief. It is open to the public (see registration information below).

“Grief in Our Community: Supporting Children, Teens and Families” will be a virtual event led by the Dougy Center, the National Grief Center for Children and Families.

The event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will include two different sessions:

  • Companioning Children and Teens Who Are Grieving During COVID-19
  • Understanding Suicide: Supporting Children and Adults

Reverend Marissa Rohrbach, the rector at St. Matthews, spoke with GOOD Morning Wilton about the upcoming event, which was planned in recognition of the feelings of loss that are so prevalent in the community right now.

Rohrbach says the event is intended to support not only those dealing with the loss of a loved one, but anyone feeling the loss of personal connections and experiences after a year dominated by the pandemic.

“There is so much that we have lost collectively, and especially young people,” Rohrbach said. “There’s graduations, sports… the whole rhythm of life.”

“Kids are grieving even though they don’t always know it,” she added.

Rohrbach also noted that the tragedy of suicides has deeply affected many people in our community in recent months. The second half of the event is specifically geared to children and adults struggling to understand such loss.

Rohrbach pointed out that the webinar format of the event on Zoom might offer a more comfortable environment to those who would be reticent to attend a group event because they don’t have to be on camera (or attend in person).

Expertise from the Dougy Center

Though hosted by St. Matthew’s, this event is organized and led by the Dougy Center, based in Portland, Oregon. Rohrbach described the Dougy Center as a “preeminent” organization in the field of grief support and particularly suicide “postvention”.

“We’re really delighted to be partnering with [the Dougy Center],” she said, adding that the event will be “customized” for the Wilton community.

The Dougy Center was established by a former nurse, Beverly Chappell, in 1982, and named after a 13-year-old boy, Dougy Turno, who died from an inoperable brain tumor. Chappell and her husband, Dr. Allan Chappell, a pediatrician, wanted to create a “safe place for children, teens, and their adult family members grieving a death or an advanced serious illness to share their experiences with others who understood.”

Today, the Dougy Center provides training throughout the U.S. and internationally to organizations seeking to assist children and family members in grief.


All participants must register in advance by emailing Rev. Marissa Rohrbach. Zoom links will be provided to registrants.

If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.TALK (8255).