Life After Loss

Life After Loss is a caring community of students actively loving their family, friends, and communities especially during times of hardship

Photo of Jason Nieh
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  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

1 student in every class (1 out of 20), before graduating from High School, will experience the loss of a loved one (Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing). The problem is that the education system is not equipped to support students who have gone through such a traumatic event. During this time, peers do not know how to respond and students are forced to navigate the ever-complicated process of grief.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Life After Loss is a caring community of students who actively love their family, friends, and communities during times of hardship. Through regular gatherings and volunteer activities, we hope to accomplish our 3 Es: educate, embrace, and empower. Educate stands for educating students not only on the complexities of grief but also love (ex: 5 love languages, different personality types, etc). Embrace means embracing vulnerability and the uncomfortableness that precedes true healing. Lastly, empower stands for empowering students to pursue for themselves what it means to support people who are going through times of hardship in their communities. We hope to partner with local organizations, nursing homes, homeless shelters, local hospices, and anywhere students may find people that they can partner and see healing through love. High school is a prime time-period where students begin to have the independence to pursue their own interests through clubs and we believe that forming a club in high schools will lead to a longlasting relationship with students and encourage them to make a change even at this young age.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

October 20, 2017, on a routine Saturday visit back home, I received a phone call that my father was in the hospital. I found out later that night my father passed away from a sudden heart attack while out on a run. I knew at that moment, my life would no longer be the same. Since then, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by so many friends and family, but nevertheless, it is still a lonely and complex journey. A little over a year later on 1/2019, I read a story about Dr. Loope who has been bedridden for 23 years. What could a man do who was bedridden for so long? Dr. Loope accumulated names and addresses of other bedridden individuals all over the nation and founded an organization called the Shut-in Society where they would write notes back and forth encouraging one another. To use one's pain to bring healing to others, that inspired me and my sister to start Life After Loss.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make a change because too many students feel that they are alone on this complex journey of grief and there is too much opportunity for students to take action and be a powerful force of good in their community. Imagine students coming together and from behind their shells that all is well and embrace vulnerability, and get educated, and be empowered to go out and be a force of healing in different circles of our society where otherwise, they would not encounter.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We want students to not only process their own experiences but also rise above that and be empowered to make a difference in their community. One of our first students came to our first meeting where we had a vulnerable discussion sharing stories, experiences, and how life has changed and she lost her grandmother. Since then, she's felt compelled to help other students who have gone through something similar and is our student leader, advertising for the club and gathering students. As a team, we will work together to plan other activities including a visit to a nursing home to serve the residents there as well as pursue other areas that she see is an opportunity for us to heal through love. Though only a sophomore, she's stepped up to be a leader in our chapter and she's excited to be a force of change in her community.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Life After Loss's distinguishing factors are the WHO (target audience) and the HOW (activities). While other organizations may focus on adults, college students, and even little children, Life After Loss aims to serve high school students between the ages 14-18. Other approaches are focused on grief counseling but Life After Loss's focuses are community-based sharing, education, and volunteer activities.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Starting in April 2019, we had 1 student join our first General Interest meeting. At the end of the year, we had 6 different students. Faculty in the high school informed us of at least 4 other students who they know have lost a parent in the few months that Life After Loss has started but did not come to our events. This shows that this club is highly relevant to the student body but students may not be comfortable yet to join our club. While the origin of the club was grief-centered, Life After Loss is expanding it vision to become a volunteer/community service-based club where students go and make a difference in the lives of people who are experiencing times of hardship. This drastically increases the number of students who may be interested in this type of club and we would love to see 20+ students in our club, empowered to support one another and make a difference.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the next year, we would like to see our club in Townsend Harris High School continue to grow steadily in students and in partnerships with various organizations in the city (homeless shelters, nursing homes, hospices, etc.) in order for students to partake in events to support others who are in times of hardship. Once there is a strong foundation, we would hope that Townsend Harris High School's repuation as one of the top public schools in city would enable Life After Loss to spread into other schools. I personally have connections to faculty in other schools who may be interested in advising for such an organization. But ultimately, we'd like to see Life After Loss be present on everyone High School in the state and nation.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations less than $100

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carson McBain

Hearing your story of turning an experience of personal loss into a way to help & empower others was really moving for me. It's been my impression too that my school didn't have a way for students to support other students going through a loss. By telling your story and making a safe space, you empower others to share theirs. My suggestions would be to think about events and opportunities for you to promote the club, making leadership spaces for others who want to drive the evolution of the group with you. From there, you might find that rather than looking for footholds in other schools, students will be seeking you out to ask you how they can start a chapter at their school. Also, do you see social media potentially playing a role as a tool to help grow this support network, or is having the face-to-face meetings an intentional part of the design you don't want to change? Best of luck to you!

Photo of Jason Nieh

Definitely planning events to promote the club within the school. Townsend Harris is one of the elite public high schools in Queens and the goal is once we have a successful club model in place, we can share the idea into other schools. Social media is definitely one of the tools that we want to use. It's not as active as I'd like it to be but at this stage, I'm more concerned about building up our key leaders. Definitely planning to use it to spread the word though! Thank you for your comment
Carson :)

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