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The Highmark Caring Place releases report on children and loss as part of its recognition of Children's Grief Awareness Day on Nov. 15

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 7, 2018) — According to a report compiled by the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, one in 20 children under the age of 15 have experienced the loss of one or both parents and, on average, 60,000 children each year cope with the death of a sibling across the country.

The report pulls in inclusively third-party data and was released in conjunction with Children's Grief Awareness Day (CGAD), a day of observation created 10 years ago by the Highmark Caring Place. CGAD is now celebrated internationally and is observed annually on the third Thursday of November—this year on Nov. 15.

Children's Grief Awareness Day is important in raising awareness of grieving children, in helping grieving children know that they are not alone in their grief, and in providing a way for all of us to show our support for these grieving kids. The simplest way of showing that support is to wear blue on that day and let people know the color represents children's grief awareness.

Most recently, opioids have become a major contributor to the rate of death among parents and siblings, with the national rate of opioid-related deaths increasing by 13.3 percent since 2010. In Pennsylvania, the rate has increased from 5.1 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 18.5 in 2016.

This increase was reflected in the number of families reaching out to the Highmark Caring Place for services after an opioid-related death. Among the Caring Place's four locations in Erie, Cranberry Twp., Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, 144 families received services for this type of loss in 2017 compared to only five in 2014.

"Opioids are having a devastating impact on children in our country and in our community. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 100,000 kids are being raised by their relatives or guardians as a result of an opioid-related death," said Terese Vorsheck, director of the Highmark Caring Place. "At the Caring Place, we support children along their grief journeys through peer support sessions offered in a safe place with safe people."

A community resource, the Caring Place offers services at no charge to grieving families throughout the community. No insurance is necessary.

The Caring Place again observed CGAD this year with the Illuminating HOPE display, which appeared at locations across western Pennsylvania throughout the fall, with the installation finding its final home at the Highmark building in the lobby at Penn Avenue Place.

The large, illuminated mural features thousands of handmade paper butterflies, each bearing the name of a lost loved one or a message of support for grieving children.

The Children's Grief Awareness Day observance will also include:

  • CGAD activities in various schools throughout the area.
  • A social media campaign that includes encouraging the public to go to the Children's Grief Awareness Day website and print out a photo of HOPE the Butterfly, taking a selfie with HOPE, and posting it to Twitter and/or Instagram with #CGADHope. The public may also show their support by posting on the Children's Grief Awareness Day Facebook page.
  • Asking the public to wear blue — the designated color for children's grief awareness — on Nov. 15.

Additional events will be held by schools, businesses, and communities around the world. To learn more about how to participate in Children's Grief Awareness Day through a variety of individual or group activities, visit

About the Highmark Caring Place

The mission of the Highmark Caring Place is to provide programs to address the needs of grieving children and their families, and to empower the community to support children who have experienced the death of a loved one. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, the Caring Place has served more than 100,000 family and community members. Financial support from Highmark Inc. allows the Caring Place, with facilities in Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and Warrendale, Pennsylvania to offer its programs at no cost to the families and the community. For more information about the Highmark Caring Place, please visit


Nikki Buccina
Highmark Health
Work: 412-544-6245