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For grieving children: Over the mountains

What is the program Over the Mountains?

Over the Mountains supports families with children after the loss of the mother, father, brother, sister or another significant caretaker of a child by providing support in groups, individual sessions, as well as educating society on aspects of mourning in a family with children. Over the Mountains provides support for free and is provided to the family as a whole – both, the child and one of the child’s parents/guardians participate in Over the Mountains group and/or individual sessions, therefore, contributing to establishing a comprehensive support system during the most difficult times in a child’s life.

Program Over the Mountains aims to promote a healthy mourning process in a family, dispel loneliness and prejudice, improve a child’s mental health, strengthen the strategies of overcoming difficulties in a family, promote communication. The Over the Mountains team – psychologists, psychotherapists, art therapist, theologist, activities manager, and preschool teacher – care for the child so they would not be mourning alone and they are in the most trustworthy and safe company.

Why would a child need support during a mourning period?

Often, relatives, friends, teachers and classmates feel confused when interacting with a mourning person and are at a loss of what to do. Because of that, one of the most common reactions is avoidance – avoiding talking about the loss as well as the person’s feelings and needs overall. Mourning turns into a taboo and the child feels isolated. In reality mourning is a natural and helpful response to a loss of a close person that can be healing. Society is dominated by the opinion that sorrow is a problem, which needs to be solved. Over the Mountains stands for the view that sorrow is a new reality one has to learn to accept and live with during this difficult period when one has to adapt to different roles in the family, experience overwhelming emotions, continue attending school and work. They believe an understanding and encouraging environment might provide significant support.

When is the time to turn to Over the Mountains?

Immediately after the death of a relative: Over the Mountains provides free individual counseling or crisis intervention immediately after the death. One can consult with the Over the Mountains specialists about announcing the death of a close person to a child, whether or not to let the child attend the funeral as well as other acute questions.

Six months to two years after the death of a relative: it has been proven in scientific literature and in practice that this is the most appropriate time of providing support to the mourning child and their family. During the period one can receive individual counseling and group counseling where children and adults receive professional support as well as support from group members that have experienced similar situations.

A longer period after the death of a relative: occasionally the process of mourning occurs after several years. It is possible at the time of losing a relative the child was still very young and reaching teenage years might extend the understanding of the event and make the mourning process more significant. Occasionally a child can experience traumatic or very complex mourning if a relative has died a violent death. In this case, mourning can also become more significant over time and attempts to help the child should be made at every stage.

Which age groups can receive support?

Over the Mountains offers support to families with children of all ages – from the moment of birth until reaching legal age (18).

Over the Mountains is located in Zemitāna square 5, in Teika, Riga. Families from all around the country (for instance, from Valmiera) have turned to us for support and admitted that time spent on the road has also positively impacted the mourning process.

Where to receive Over the Mountains support?

Over the Mountains is located in Zemitāna square 5, in Teika, Riga. Families from all around the country (for instance, from Valmiera) have turned to us for support and admitted that time spent on the road has also positively impacted the mourning process.


The mother of a 16-year-old boy: “It is very difficult to analyze all benefits of participating in the program Over the Mountains. The most significant thing is that my son and me have started talking about his father more. Feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I also understood what happened to me over the years after losing my husband. Thank you!”

The guardian of an 8-year-old girl: “Sincere attitude from the group leaders. Very pleasant, relaxed, understanding atmosphere. During the group I could see myself in the stories of others, feel the support of people like me and understand that anything you feel is ‘’normal’’!”

The father of a 12-year-old girl: “Warmth and personal attitude of the team. Thank you! The support group helped me realize my problems are nothing unique, just like the behavioural characteristics of my child.”

The mother of a 10-year-old boy:’’I appreciated that our feelings were explained during participation in the project Over the Mountains. That, as turns out, most had the same or similar problems. That one could feel as an equal, rather than always being pitied and nursed when talking about a deceased person or everyday problems. I liked the silent support, a shoulder to cry on. I liked everything!’’

The mother of a 13-year-old girl: “During the Over the Mountains group I realized there is a logical continuation to this period of life. I see the way out, hope for the future. Realizations about motherhood. You are wonderful! All of you!”

The father of a 7-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl: ‘’Confidentiality, teamwork, professional specialists, it was a small group. You are not alone in your sorrow. All around are people like you. I liked everything.’’


Madara Vasiļjeva

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