Gift for the grieving: Brooke’s Place celebrates 25 years of support for bereaved youth


If you’re old enough to love, you’re old enough to grieve.

That is the message that Brooke’s Place of Indianapolis spreads as it counsels area youth who are navigating the loss of a loved one.

This year, Brooke’s Place celebrates 25 years as a nonprofit organization providing ongoing grief support programs, therapy services and community education for children, teens and young adults aged 3-29 and their caregivers in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, including Marion, Hamilton and Boone counties.

Brooke’s Place was named after Brooke Wright, a former Indianapolis resident who, as a child, lost her father. Family friend Pam Wright, no relation, realized that children in central Indiana had little to no support available to deal with grief. What started as a discussion to create a grieving center led to the creation of Brooke’s Place in 1999, when Brooke Wright agreed to lend her name to the organization.

Brooke’s Place Executive Director Theresa Brun said in Indiana, 1 in 10 children experience the death of a sibling or a parent by the time they are 18.

“Our flagship program is our ongoing support group,” Brun said. “We are the only organization (in the Indianapolis area) that provides this ongoing support group program for children who are grieving the death of a loved one.”

The support group has several sessions available per month, with meetings at the Brooke’s Place headquarters at 8935 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis, as well one night per month at West Side Church of the Nazarene in Wayne Township and one night at the ROCK Community Center at Eastern Star Church in Warren Township.

The organization also offers a school-based program with an eight-week curriculum.

“We’re trying to reach the kids where they are,” Brun said. “We have different topics that we go through, and it’s just really a chance for them to do different activities or to think about their grief in different ways. It might be honoring your loved one at the holidays, or different times or stages of your life where grief may be more impactful for you.”

Brun said the school program involves interactions with other youth who are also dealing with grief, so those children don’t feel alone in an environment where they are safe, supported and understood.

“It’s really just creating a space and an environment for them to express their grief in a way that is healthy and to learn healthy coping skills, to increase their self-esteem, decrease their anxiety and help them understand that grief is going to be with them throughout their lives,” Brun said.

As part of its 25th anniversary, Brooke’s Place launched a Wind Phone Project as a way to provide a unique way for bereaved families to process their grief.

The wind phone was installed at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on 86th Street in Indianapolis this month. Central Indiana Woodworkers built the wind phone structure. Brun said the project was designed for anyone in the community to access.

“People will often say, ‘After my loved one died, I find myself wanting to pick up the phone to tell them something.’ This is a phone that creates a place for them to dial that number that they haven’t dialed in a long time,” Brun said. “It’s to be able to physically dial that and share whatever you want to share in a private space.”

The wind phone is at the church’s Prism Labyrinth meditation area in the northwest corner of the property.

Besides its traditional services, Brooke’s Place will also host Camp Healing Tree this summer, a special camp for children with a grief-themed component.

Since 1999, Brooke’s Place has provided grief support services to more than 30,000 children, teens, young adults and caregivers who have experienced the death of a loved one.

“People have an innate ability to heal from grief, but it takes their own time, and there are resources available to be able to learn how to cope,” Brun said. “For kids that have experienced a really traumatic death of a loved one, for them it’s a complicated grief. We want to teach them healthy coping skills.”

To learn more about Brooke’s Place, donate or sign up for volunteer opportunities, visit

Prism labyrinth
The wind phone is located at the Prism Labyrinth meditation and prayer area in the northwest corner of the St. Luke’s UMC parking lot on 86th Street in Indianapolis. (Photo by Marney Simon)

Brooke’s Place supports the community

Brooke’s Place of Indianapolis is primarily supported through donations and relies on more than 190 volunteers who directly serve the nonprofit’s children and families. Volunteers assist the organization in the effort to address the critical needs of grieving young people and their families.

Brooke’s Place is always seeking volunteers to serve as support group facilitators for its westside, eastside and northside program nights. Volunteers engage groups through conversation as well as age-appropriate therapeutic activities such as crafts and games.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact [email protected] or visit