Impact Stories

March Highlight: Chelsea Ernst

marzo 19, 2024

Chelsea Ernst, a Bilingual Grief Counselor talks to us about the immensely fulfilling and impactful work of walking beside children experiencing grief.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month and National Social Worker Month, we are celebrating our social workers who make a difference in the lives of the children and families we serve at Judi’s House.

Meet Chelsea Ernst, MSW, SWC, our Bilingual Grief Counselor. Chelsea is part of the team that conducts family interviews and facilitates in-house Pathfinders and Connections groups. Additionally, she serves individual clients and goes out into the community from time to time to share the work we do here.

Looking to specialize in grief counseling and gain specific experience with children and families after getting her MSW, Chelsea first came to Judi’s House as a post-graduate trainee. “In finding Judi’s House, I knew this was a special place and community I wanted to be a part of,” says Chelsea.

A strong advocate for counselors specifically trained in grief to help address childhood grief, Chelsea tells us that grieving children can present in a variety of ways – different emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and body reactions.

“Counselors can support children in self-identifying these reactions and provide a safe, nonjudgmental space, where children recognize that they are not alone in their grief experience,” says Chelsea. “Children need the space to grieve their special person and to process their death, in order to continue their lives in a healthy way.”

Chelsea encourages anyone looking to enter this field of work to recognize that while the work is hard, it is immensely fulfilling and impactful.

“Walking alongside someone in their grief journey is a sacred path to choose,” says Chelsea. “Many people are drawn to this work through their own experiences in grief, and if this is true for you, it is important to do your own inner work, recognize your own challenges, and learn how to ‘fill your own cup.’ Doing so will ensure that you’ are taking care of yourself, which then enables you to show up 100% in supporting grieving families.”

Her advice to anyone grieving a death loss is to consider an often-said phrase at Judi’s House, “grief isn’t about letting go, it’s about holding on in a different way.”

“Grief will travel alongside us,” says Chelsea. “And at Judi’s House we hope families can find connection and comfort in others in knowing they aren’t alone and learn better how to manage their grief on a daily basis.”

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