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Northcentral Pennsylvania now has its own chapter of Bereaved Parents of the USA (BPUSA), a non-profit nationwide self-help and support group dedicated to helping families recover after the loss of a child.

Though the group name does have "parents" in it, grandparents, siblings, and friends are invited to attend meetings, whether to receive help coping with their own losses or to provide support. There are no dues or fees for BPUSA membership or meeting attendance.

The local chapter meets every third Wednesday of each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the RiverWalk Center, 423 East Central Ave, South Williamsport. Between those times, chapter leader Kim Andy is always willing to lend a compassionate ear or text back and forth. Kim understands the difficulties of loss, grief, and opening up to a group and sincerely wants to help others who have experienced loss.

Members of BPUSA often feel that meeting with others who have gone through similar experiences is freeing, in a way: even if someone doesn't know how to explain his or her feelings, there is a sense that everyone in the room understands one another.

Grief and loss can feel incredibly isolating, but BPUSA aims to show the bereaved that they are not alone. The Northcentral Pennsylvania group's next meeting takes place on November 20.

The national organization, which publishes several resources for families struggling to piece their lives back together, will hold a large conference that includes workshops and memorials in August, 2020, in St. Louis, Missouri.