A yellow house with a lush green entrance and rooms full of color, design, and care, the Children’s Room stands as a beacon of hope to all who visit.
Perched on a hill overlooking Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Heights, this oasis was born of hope in loss. Its evolution hangs in a quilt of individual stories, held by the power of community and artful care.
Staffed by therapists with the skill and spirit to support and learn from all ages, the Children’s Room is a haven for grieving families experiencing the loss of parent or child. It’s life-giving space enables sadness and hope to harmonize.
One evening I toured the Children’s Room along with a group of arts-health-education professionals. No families were around, no children, no groups, no therapy sessions, no arts and crafts, no play acting. The space was in respite as staff prepared for the next cycle of welcome and care work to embrace hurting hearts.
It’s not that I expected a bad atmosphere I was just struck that a place so winded with sadness could feel so vibrant and hopeful. Perhaps it was the choice of color – earth and calming tones in the common spaces; warm colors in the children’s area; comfortable seating; children’s art; the quilt; sense of order; space; lots of light.
Upstairs, splashes of color in pillows cheer a circle waiting for young, middle, and teen children. Everything in its place, clean, and expectant for new secrets to spill, tender souls to snuggle into a corner under the counter full of pillows and stuffed animals. A quilt for loved ones hangs for memories to sew their place in time.
Each room has a purpose, a feel, and lots of color and light. And this only reflects the wholehearted work and learning that goes on by staff, volunteers, and the community that emerges by room, age, cycle, and stage.
The Children’s Room is much more than a room, a house, or solace for grievers. It is a template of color’s power to heal and nourish when painted with care and insight. It is a place where chairs hold and cushions embrace. In this house, secret doors open to costumes that delight. Community is forged there. Corners call for reflection. Walls make safe the moments for whimpers.
Yes the Children’s room is much more than a place to go when you’ve lost a loved one. It is a palette of calm, understanding, connection, compassion, and strength. And with this palette little and older mourners can learn how to paint life anew on a canvas stretched wide enough for all that has been lost and gained and for the emerging dreams that hope designs.