DENVER — For 20 years, they have held the doors open.
They have greeted families and encouraged them to share their stories of grief. What started as a group of 10 boys and girls has grown to 12,000.
Judi’s House is a gift to the community from former Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese and his wife, Brook. It is named for his mom, who died when he was 12 years old.
“It’s an extension of my grief process, like when I lost my mom, I was angry. I was mad," Griese said. "I went through all those emotions and I didn’t really have anywhere where I felt I could express those feelings.”
The grief services at Judi’s House are free. Children meet in small age-appropriate groups and adults meet separately. Together they navigate this journey.
Brook Griese calls it a hopeful experience. “Being together, being able to express that sadness and find support in that is what helps them get to a place where they can remember the person they loved in a way that is meaningful to them and that allows them to thrive,” she said.
The need has grown tremendously. Judi’s House is expanding to a new facility in Denver's Central Park neighborhood. It will open in the fall. There are many ways the community can support their work and remember a loved one, including a memorial wall.
Brian and Brook are committed to helping Colorado families and sharing research nationally on grief. The JAG Institute is an extension of Judi’s House and focuses on grief, the long term impact on children, socioeconomic differences and more.
The numbers are staggering when it comes to children losing a loved one in childhood. “One out of every 14 kids will have a parent, or brother, or sister die before the age of 18 in our state, and that’s just here in our state -- that’s 89,000 youth," Brian Griese said. "Across the country, that’s over 5 million youth.”
Griese applauds the number of athletes in recent years who have opened up about their personal losses, such as Mikaela Shiffrin. “What Mikaela has done I think is a sign of strength, I think so many of us can identify with that,” he said.
You can learn more and support Judi’s House by going to this website.
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