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Tu Nidito expands grief services to help more children

The local organization helps people of all ages grieving the death of a loved one, or experience a life-changing medical diagnosis.
Tu Nidito
Posted at 7:27 AM, Sep 15, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. — A local organization that helps families grieve is expanding, to be able to help more people.

Tucked away at Mountain and Roger, you'll find Tu Nidito. They offer grief services to people who have experienced the death of a loved one, or a devastating, life changing diagnoses.

"All of our services are family centered, we offer peer support," explained the program director, Amanda Marks, MSW. "All of our groups meet in the evening, and we focus on the whole family unit. So it's peer support, emotional support, social support, to help kind of give them a space where they can feel safe to go through their grief to know that they're not alone, and that there are others that are there to comfort them and support them along in their grief journey."

They focus on group connections, being surrounded by people your own age, who are going through the same challenge. They offer group meetings with different age groups, from young kids, through adults.

Marks says they recognize that grief is different for everyone.

"We just provide a space where, regardless of what they're experiencing, those emotions can be expressed in a healthy way," she said. "And we provide coping skills and a curriculum that kind of enables them and allows them to process through those difficult emotions, because no emotion is a bad emotion. It just needs a healthy way of being expressed."

They have a space for arts and crafts, a playroom, and even what they call the "volcano room," where you can express anger. You can use pool noodles to hit the padded walls, or even use a punching bag.

Now, Tu Nidito is growing their outreach to schools, where the need is more common than you might expect.

"In the state of Arizona, one in 11 children will grieve the death of either a parent or a sibling before they turn 18," Marks said. "And so we know that there are many children in Pima County, let alone other counties in southern Arizona, that are grieving, and so we're trying to expand our services to really ensure that no child grieves alone. Grief can be isolating and it doesn't stop when those kids walk through the classroom doors."

They now run a grief education workshop for local schools to help teachers understand how children grieve. They've run the program in three districts so far, and they've been seeing success.

Marks says when anyone, especially a child, understands how to process their grief, everyone benefits.

"I think they come out with better coping skills," she said. "More hope, they feel less isolated, less alone, and they just know that they can maintain that relationship with the person in their life who has died, but also have hope for their future as they move forward. It's not moving on and forgetting their special person, but it's moving forward, maintaining that bond with the person and knowing that they can have a future ahead of them."

Tu Nidito offers their services for free. They run on support from our community, and you can donate on their website, https://tunidito.org/ where you'll also find information about getting involved as a volunteer.

They rely on more than a hundred volunteers to lead many of their classes, who go through a one day training course.

Claire Graham is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. She grew up in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in musical theatre. Claire spent a decade in Washington state, where she worked in journalism, met her husband and welcomed their baby boy, before moving back home. Share your story ideas and important issues with Claire by emailing claire.graham@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.