Sometimes, out of the greatest tragedies, the most incredible blessings are born. In 2012, 5 year old Emma Trapp, a playful and happy little girl, witnessed the horrific deaths of her mother and father. She and her younger sister, Sophia, were sent to live with their grandmother, Francine, and their Aunt Jamie. Knowing that Emma was having difficulty adjusting, not only to the losses, but to her new Staten Island home, her grandmother contacted Karen Goldman, LMHC, for grief counseling for Emma. Unbeknownst to anyone involved, it was a decision that would, ultimately, alter many lives. In the comfort of Karen’s private office and through the use of play and art therapy, the two slowly began to build a safe and trusting relationship. Initially, Emma remembered very little of what she had experienced with respect to the deaths, however, as she played, she began recalling the details in bits and pieces. As the vivid memories of the trauma she endured began to surface, Emma was able to draw on the love and strength of her family as well as her new nurturing relationship with Karen. She learned that it was okay to be happy and playful and sad all at the same time. Soon, she was even comfortable enough to draw the nightmares she had been suffering from and to incorporate them into her concrete memories of that time. The breakthrough was astonishing and the change in Emma was increasingly evident. She regained the sparkle in her eyes and her joy. Her nightmares finally had a place and she developed a new set of coping skills that made it easier to talk about what had happened, not only on the comfy couch in Karen’s office (which quickly became “Emma’s Couch”), but also with her grandmother and aunt. It made a tremendous difference as the family attempted to move forward from their loss.Yet, there was something far greater being built over the course of this therapeutic relationship. As much as Karen had affected Emma and her family, they had inspired her. After two years of counseling, Karen asked the family if she could name her burgeoning not-for-profit grief center after Emma. With their blessing, Emma’s Place was born. Things moved fairly quickly from there and everything fell into place. Both Francine and Jamie joined the Board of Directors to help raise awareness and funding for the operation of Emma’s Place. Their compassion, great strength and positive energy continue to inspire everyone who is a part of the organization. Everything we do stands as a testament to Emma and her ability, with help from both her family and a caring counselor, to find her smile through her tears, her courage through her nightmares and the truth that allowed her to live despite the deaths she had suffered. And that is what Emma’s Place brings to countless other children and families as Staten Island’s only Grief Center for Children and Families. Please see our Facebook page and let us hear from you!
“Emma’s Place-Staten Island Grief & Loss Center for Children and Families is absolutely a great place! My granddaughter is Emma and she has made amazing breakthroughs going through her grief and loss process. We needed this on Staten Island! Thanks to all who have been a part of helping Emma and still are helping Emma get through some rough times. I am forever grateful.” -Francine S. Newman