Impact Stories

March Highlight: Emily Napier

marzo 11, 2024

Learn more about the work our Assistant Director of Community-based Care, Emily, does to reach families and facilitate hope and healing.

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.

Emily Napier, LCSW, oversees our community-based programming, building relationships with community partners, such as K-12 schools, to provide Judi’s House services.

Our primary community service is providing the 10-session Pathfinders grief group for middle school-age youth, but in addition to this programming, we also offer grief-focused professional development training for teachers and other youth-serving professionals in the community and provide universal grief education workshops for youth.

“I really value the ability to meet youth where they are, and I strongly believe that community-based services help us reach families that may not be able to access our services otherwise,” says Emily. “I love the Judi’s House approach of working with the family system and supporting communities to become more educated and better equipped to support grieving youth.”

Before moving to Colorado, Emily worked with children, adolescents, and families in child welfare and school settings in her home state of Florida.

“Over time I noticed there was a common thread of grief and loss present among all the different stressors and challenges that my clients were navigating,” Emily tells us. “When I decided to move to Colorado, I was drawn to Judi’s House because of the specific focus on providing comprehensive grief care. I wanted to be a part of facilitating healing and instilling hope.”

Emily explains that bereaved youth often experience isolation and a sense of disconnection because it can feel like no one understands what they are going through. “By investing time and training into becoming specialized in providing grief care, we are validating the unique challenges associated with childhood bereavement,” says Emily. “In a way, we are saying ‘we see your pain and we’re specifically trained to help you face these challenges.’”

Specifically, when it comes to childhood grief, it is important to have counselors and social workers who can normalize the grief reactions that bereaved youth experience and facilitate peer connection as they begin to process their grief and facilitate a safe space for youth to explore the unanswered questions and ambiguous pieces of grief that can come up along the way.

“As grief counselors, we support clients toward integrating the experience of the death into their larger life story, instead of trying to fix or resolve the ‘problem,’” says Emily. “It’s essential that we are trained to consider the complex and multifaceted ways that grief may be showing up differently for each person.”

Emily’s biggest piece of advice for those looking to enter this field is to have an open mind and lean into the support of your colleagues and supervisors.

“We are not meant to do this work alone and there is a rich opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and diverse perspectives,” says Emily. “There may be pieces of your own grief that will connect to this work and relate to your client’s stories, but it’s important to remember that every person’s grief experience is uniquely their own, and upholding clear boundaries will support both your well-being and the client’s well-being.”

To those grieving Emily wants you to know you are not alone in your grief.

“It’s okay and normal to feel whatever it is that you are feeling or questioning or wondering,” says Emily. “Talking about your grief is an act of courage and a great step toward getting the support you may need.” 

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