New bereavement outreach effort brings grief workshops to Valley

HARLINGEN (April 26, 2012) — Workshops on grief, both for families and professionals who work closely with them, will be held in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in coming weeks as part of an outreach effort led by the Regional Academic Health Center, a campus of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The workshops are sponsored by the new RGV Community Bereavement Taskforce, which was created after an assessment by Allograft Resources in the School of Medicine of the UT Health Science Center found a tremendous need for resources for grieving families and children.

The free workshops include a screening of the video “When Families Grieve,” featuring Katie Couric and the cast of “Sesame Street,” and also will highlight bereavement organizations and resources in the Valley. Additionally, presentations for families will offer panel discussions by local child and grief experts.

Workshops for families will have supervised activities for children ages 5 to 12 while parents attend screenings. Each family will receive a bilingual “When Families Grieve” kit.

The following workshops are scheduled for families:

  • Tuesday, May 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Valley Baptist Medical Center’s Boggus Education Pavilion, 2110 Benwood, Harlingen.
  • Tuesday, May 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Event Center, 4610 S. Jackson Road, Edinburg.

Workshops already have been held for professionals in Brownsville and Harlingen. Another is planned for Wednesday, May 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Legacy Event Center, 4610 S. Jackson Road, Edinburg.

Although there is no cost to attend a workshop, advance registration is required. To register, contact Michelle Ramirez, bereavement coordinator at the UT Health Science Center’s Allograft Resources, at 956-365-8680 or

Ramirez visited the Valley last summer to determine what bereavement resources were available for the community. She found that there was little available to grieving families in the region, especially for children and those in mourning following a suicide.

“I discovered there is a definite need,” Ramirez said. “People are desperate for the resources.”

Based on this need, she created the RGV Community Bereavement Taskforce. More than a half-dozen organizations attended the first meeting, and Ramirez hopes to continue to reach out to clergy members, childcare providers, funeral homes, social workers, and anyone who may be in a position to assist families after a death.

Allograft Resources at the UT Health Science Center provides tissue donation services and tissue distribution, and the bereavement outreach effort in the Valley was created with its donor families in mind. Ramirez wants it also to be a resource for anyone in need.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $231 million in fiscal year 2011. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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