Hospice East Bay has begun a new grief support group for millenial adults that features hiking through the Bay Area’s many beautiful parks.

Young adults face unique stressors. According to the American Psychological Association, adults aged 18-30 are experiencing more stress than any other generation. Millennials have the highest rate of poverty, unemployment, and student loan debt of any preceding generation in the modern era. The average college debt for a millennial is around $33,000. According to U.S Census data, 40% of unemployed workers are millennials.

Imagine adding the death of someone important in your life to these already overwhelming challenges. Research indicates that young adults have unique bereavement needs and are a group that does not fit into the support group model for older adults. This same research shows that this demographic tends to “fall through the cracks” receiving little to no bereavement support, with sometimes devastating results. Bereaved college students suffer academically; have higher rates of dropping out of school, and an increase in suicidality. Most millennials do not have experience in a traditional group counseling setting, which often makes them reluctant to share their feelings with strangers. They prefer peer support and activities which get them outdoors.

Hiking Through Grief is an active monthly support group that meets on the third Saturday of every month from 10am-1pm to hike trails in the Bay Area. It is currently the only regularly occurring young adult grief group in the region.

The group meets in a different location each month and hikes for 2-3 hours with a snack break in the middle. During the break, hikers are encouraged but not required to share their stories and insights. So far the group has hiked in Tilden Park in Berkeley, and in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland where they observed millions of wintering ladybugs.

The hikes are a wonderful way to get participants moving, see some beautiful scenery, meet other grieving young adults who “get it,” and build a network of support that can be so critical in navigating the challenges associated with grief. Most of all, the hikes are fun and the response has been overwhelmingly positive!

Our group now has over 200 members on Meetup.com. Typically, each hike has between 7-15 participants. If you are a grieving young adult, or know someone who is, come check us out. Our hikes are casual, fun, and relaxing and you would be very welcome. For more information, please contact Hospice East Bay’s Bereavement Department.