Giving Back

Imagine Teaches Westfield High School Coaches to Help Kids Cope with Grief

Westield High School trainers with Connie Palmer and Keith Hertell (center) from Imagine and Athletic Director Sandra Mamary (far right). Credits: Meghan Pettit
Coaches gather to learn about grief education and how to foster resilience from Imagine. Credits: Meghan Pettit

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield High School athletic coaches and trainers attended a workshop run by Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss Thursday to learn how to comfort someone who has experienced loss of a loved one and other losses.

The workshop, led by Imagine’s Clinical and Training Director Connie Palmer and Chair of the Imagine Board Keith Hertell, focused on fostering resilience and the tools to help students do so.

“I think that coaches really get to genuinely know the kids,” explained Westfield Athletic Director Sandra Mamary. “You don’t coach because you want to make money … you coach because you care.”

Participants learned how to define four words: loss, grief, mourning and resilience. To become resilient, one has to be vulnerable; you have to grieve, the leaders explained.

Additionally, coaches and trainers learned the signs of grief and how to approach someone in that situation: follow that person’s lead, instead of forcing them to speak if he or she does not want to, and provide support so that when they’re ready to speak they know someone will be present.

Finally, the group discussed myths about grief, such as whether certain statements regarding loss were really truthful. Coaches also received a handout of dos and don’ts based on information from graduated students who experienced a loss in high school.

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