National News

Turlock organization offers space, help to grieving families

Posted November 22, 2017 3:00 p.m. EST

— The holiday season can be a difficult time for families who have lost a loved one, but an organization in Turlock is providing a safe space for kids and their families to grieve and move forward.

The small cottage is known as Jessica's House. For 250 kids and their families, it's like a second home.

Erin Nelson is the driving force behind the home, which allows children, teens and young adults a place to express themselves.

"Don't be afraid to share your feelings," Nelson said. "It's OK to cry and you will be OK."

Messages like, "I wish I could talk to you one more time" fill the walls of the home. Grief and sorrow after losing a parent or sibling fill every room but there's also something else -- hope.

"We see a transformation of families. We give surveys when they first enter the program, how are you sleeping? How are your grades looking like? How do you feel like you are able to express yourself? And really holding a space where they can express themselves through music, through art, through talking, through play, i think it really brings relief to them, it allows them to make it part of their story," Nelson told FOX40."

At Jessica's House, kids and parents are connecting with others who are fighting through pain as well.

To find hope. To find someone that, maybe it was two years ago for them, and they are still breathing and they are still living and they are still a family," Nelson said. "I think it really brings strength to a family when they feel like other people understand and they are not alone."

Since it opened five years ago, the number of families has gone from 25 to 250, leaving Nelson looking for a bigger house to help those families feel better during a time they need it the most.