You may know of Brian Griese as a former NFL quarterback. Or you might know him now from the work he does at ESPN calling games as an analyst on Monday Night Football. Brian’s dad, Bob also played in the NFL. Yet his biggest impact took place off the field. Brian lost his mother, Judi to cancer when he was 12 years old. He took the pain from losing his mom at an early age to help others who have experienced loss in their lives. Brian and his wife, Dr. Brook Griese, a clinical psychologist specializing in childhood trauma and loss, founded Judi’s House. Judi was name of Brian’s mother.
Turning Pain Into Positivity To Create Judi’s House
I spoke with Brian today on my Art of Fatherhood podcast series to talk about being a dad, his time in the NFL and calling games for ESPN. We also had the chance to talk about how he and his wife started Judi’s House. Brian shared all of the emotions he was feeling at 12 years old when his mother passed away. He didn’t know who he could to talk to. Talking about the loss of his mother with his dad was tough. His father didn’t like talking about it with Brian since it caused sadness in both of their lives.
Brian was dealing with this immeasurable loss on his own. He felt that he didn’t have time to tell his mother everything he wanted to say to her. For a 12 year old boy to have to deal with that is beyond tough. There are some parallels between Brian and myself. My mom’s name was Judy. She died because of breast cancer as well. I was in my 30’s so I was at a different place than Brian. I couldn’t even imagine how I would have dealt with such an agonizing loss as a child.
To make sure others didn’t have to experience the loss of a loved one on their own Brian and Brook created a team and formed Judi’s House. The purpose is to create a safe, comfortable place where children and families could come to receive compassionate support and connection with peers. That is something that Brian wished he had when he was a kid.
Creating A Purpose With Peers
There is strength in numbers. I have said this many times on my podcast. If a dad or parent listening to my guest and I talk about an experience that they have gone through they immediately feel a connection. They are not alone anymore. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it softens some of that pain. That is the purpose of Judi’s House. Brian wants kids to come to a place where they can connect with kids their age. Judi’s House understands that kids will experience all kinds of emotions. They look to listen first. They want to hear what each child is going through.
Brian told me that parents and adults feel the need to take over the conversation and not let a child express their feelings. At Judi’s House they listen. Since its foundation in 2002 they have provided free grief care to more than 9,000 children and caregivers. That is amazing work done by Brian, Brook and the entire staff at Judi’s House.
How Parents Can Help Their Children
If you and your children have experienced loss of your spouse and their parent Judi’s House can help. Today is Children’s Grief Awareness Day. This day is to help create awareness that children deal with grief in different ways. The Judi’s House website has a resource section that parents can go to for aassistance. There are many tools on that website that can aid in a child’s pain. If you or someone you know could use their help I strongly encourage you to check out their website.
I want to thank Brian for not only his time today to chat with me, but the incredible work that he and his team are doing at Judi’s House. For more interviews like this check out the Art of Fatherhood podcast.