Blue Ridge Hospice Secures Major Grant for Unique Grief Support RPG Program

Winchester, Va., July 2, 2024 – Blue Ridge Hospice has been awarded a two-year, $340,000 research grant from the New York Life Foundation to study the effectiveness of its innovative Adventures Through Grief program, which utilizes a custom tabletop role-playing game (RPG) similar to Dungeons and Dragons tailored for bereaved adolescents and young adults.

The Adventures Through Grief program employs a therapeutic method originally developed by Game to Grow, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to using tabletop games for therapeutic, educational, and community growth purposes. Blue Ridge Hospice modified this method to specifically address grief, made possible by a previous $30,000 Grief Reach grant from the New York Life Foundation in 2022.

Participants in the program use creative social skills to tackle imaginary obstacles and tasks within a game. This low-risk environment, guided by trained grief counselors, helps participants learn new coping skills and express their grief in indirect and non-threatening ways.

“We aspire to innovatively support socially isolated young adults navigating grief, particularly those hesitant to engage in traditional counseling,” expressed Tina Thomas, LCSW, MS, Children and Families Grief Support Coordinator at Blue Ridge Hospice. “Through our unique therapeutically applied tabletop RPG module, we foster a nurturing environment where creativity and social interaction converge, cultivating fertile ground for profound healing journeys.”

Blue Ridge Hospice has enlisted licensed clinical psychologists Elizabeth Kilmer, PhD, and Jared Kilmer, PhD, to lead research efforts aimed at publishing a comprehensive paper on the efficacy of tabletop role-playing games as grief interventions for teenagers and young adults. This research addresses a critical gap by evaluating the applicability and impact of RPGs on targeted populations through standardized assessments of grief, social isolation, and loneliness.

“In this journey of healing, we extend our gratitude for the philanthropic support provided by the New York Life Foundation. Their partnership and commitment empower us to expand the horizons of grief support, ensuring no young adult walks alone,” expressed Jason Parsons, President & CEO of Blue Ridge Hospice.

Blue Ridge Hospice will select up to eight partner grief centers and organizations nationwide. These centers will receive 20 hours of facilitator training for up to 24 grief professionals and implement a 10-week program. Each partner site will receive $15,000 for program implementation and continuous consultation, with an obligation to collect and submit data for research purposes. The application window for partner sites is open via until July 31, 2024, with a Q&A session scheduled for July 29 at 3 p.m. EST.

“Our mission is grounded in compassion and driven by the belief that together we are stronger in times of grief. As teens and young adults embark on this transformative quest, they will be empowered to navigate their emotions with courage and resilience,” added Susana Calley, LCSW, Director of Grief Support Services at Blue Ridge Hospice.

To learn more about Blue Ridge Hospice visit, or call 540-313-9200.