Sad Isn’t Bad Creates a Compassionate Community for Grieving Families

What is Sad Isn't Bad?

Sad Isn’t Bad is a Sioux Empire United Way funded program that provides free grief support for children and family members that have lost a loved one. Using a peer support model, Sad Isn't Bad helps children identify and express their feelings in a healthy way, fosters open family communications, and provides tools to help individuals navigate their grief journey. This program is available to families with school-age children (K-12) and is led by professional counselors and social workers.


Their Story

In 2006, a group of local faith community nurses identified childhood bereavement as an area of need in our community. According to the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model, “1 in 11 children will experience the death of a sibling or parent by the age of 18.” In an effort to support these children and their families, faith community nurses, volunteer counselors, and social workers held the first Sad Isn’t Bad session in 2007. 

Over 15 years later, Sad Isn't Bad continues to serve the needs of our community. Since partnering with United Way, they’ve been able to focus on their program and grow their organization. Although Executive Director Katherine Olson is the only employee, Sad Isn’t Bad is supported by 16 facilitators, 5 nursery workers, and 11 volunteer advisory board members. With Katherine typically logging less than 20 hours of work per month, Sad Isn’t Bad can offer a modest stipend to their facilitators and nursery workers after each session.


Sad Isn't Bad Peer Support Model


Their Impact

According to Katherine, the ultimate goal is to “offer a compassionate community that supports the child and allows them to grow and grieve in a healthy manner to bring a sense of comfort around them.” To do this, Sad Isn’t Bad offers three, four-week sessions each year plus a “Journey” program for families that have completed their other sessions. 

At no cost to the family, children and their caregivers are able to come together for an evening of food, fellowship, and therapy. These sessions will start with a shared meal and then break into small groups for peer support. Groups are often split between elementary children, adolescents, and adults with the guidance of two trained facilitators in each group. Plus, the program offers free childcare for younger children. Once families complete their four-week sessions, they can enter the Journey program and return quarterly for ongoing connection and support.

“We want to remove every barrier possible when it comes to attendance and we know that we are meeting just a fraction of the need that exists in our community. We would love to reach more and more families through our efforts, so they can know they are not alone,” states Katherine. This year, Sad Isn’t Bad served 23 families in 2023 with powerful reviews.

Past session participants have said that they were approached with “loving, welcoming arms” and surrounded by “a group of people who truly understand the loss, anger, and sadness we feel.” They were amazed “knowing that you could talk about whatever you wanted and everyone would listen” and ultimately felt that the counselors were “a great portion of the support needed during this process.”  


Your Impact

It is because of Sioux Empire United Way donors and supporters that we can continue funding the agencies making a direct impact in the lives of our community! Here's what your dollars can do for this agency:

  • $25 provides supplies for a creative craft, helping kids navigate their feelings of grief in a healthy and engaging way.
  • $100 provides helpful, age-appropriate books to 10 participants in their grief support program.
  • $500 provides half of the meals provided to families in their four week-program.

Through your generous donations to Sioux Empire United Way, you can ensure that Sad Isn’t Bad continues providing free meals, free childcare, and free counseling to local families in need!

To support Sad Isn't Bad and other SEUW funded programs, you can set up a one-time or monthly donation here.


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