Shelton’s Adam’s House adds grief support for young adults

SHELTON — Dealing with grief and loss can be devastating for all age groups, but young adults, ages 18 to 25, often face the most difficult road to relief.

Young adults grieve the same as adults and children but are often left to their own devices to figure it out, according to Allison Wysota, founder and director of Shelton-based Adam’s House, a free-standing grief education and peer support center.

“Grief is hard work,” Wysota said. “Most of their peer group don’t want to talk about their loss since they fear upsetting their friend, so they are often left to struggle with their chaotic emotions in isolation.

“Young adults often utilize negative coping behaviors like excessive drinking or drug use (or) promiscuous behaviors to numb the pain of grief and loss,” Wysota added.

That is why the Shelton operation has added a new offering — “Helping Hearts Heal for Young Adults.”

Wysota calls this new program an innovative, free grief education and peer support program for 18- to 25-year-olds who are mourning the loss of a loved one. The program is designed to provide peer support, knowledge, and meaningful connections for young adults as they navigate their feelings of grief and isolation.

“We’re excited to start this pilot program because there are no other grief education services in the area geared solely for this age demographic,” said Wysota. “Young adults often feel like they have nowhere to turn for help because they don’t quite relate to adult support groups but are too old for children’s groups.

“Given the events over the past couple years, including deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic,” she added, “more than ever bereaved young people need a place where they can feel safe, comfortable, supported, understood, and bond with peers their age.”

The idea originated with the center’s program families.

“Many of our families had older children away at college,” Wysota said. “They expressed anxiety about their children being away from them without grief support. It made them anxious that their children were ignoring their grief feelings.”

She said these families felt their children were struggling with their studies, having difficulty managing their moods, with some extremely angry and easily triggered into fighting with roommates. Depression and sadness were often reported as well.

“This often made the parents seek out a therapist on campus, which oftentimes was the only service available to them,” she said. “While helpful, it happens individually, and this population is social and what their peers have to say matters the most. Once our parents completed the program, they were vocal about how much their college students would benefit from a similar program.”

According to statistics from, between 35 and 48 percent of college students have lost a family member or close friend within the last two years and between 22 and 30 percent of college students have lost a family member or close friend within the last year.

Wysota said after parents inquired about the center offering this type of service, she said Adam’s House applied for the Valley Community Foundation grant to try to reach this population and offer the services.

“I think grief is especially difficult for young adults,” Wysota said. “They are trying to not lean on parents for help because they feel that should be doing this on their own now that they are an adult.”

In these sessions, Wysota said, young adults will gain support, knowledge and friendship as they connect with peers who are experiencing loss, amid the challenges of young adulthood.

Wysota said Adam’s House refers out for counseling from its preferred list of therapists who know its program. The organization’s families must meet with a therapist before participating in the “Helping Hearts Heal” program.

The program will meet at Adam’s House, 241 Coram Ave., on the first and second Monday and Wednesday in August from 6 to 7:30 p.m. It is offered at no-cost, but pre-registration is required, and all sessions must be attended. Drop-ins will not be permitted.

“We are delighted to support such an important and timely initiative for bereaved young adults in the community,” said Sharon Closius, Valley Community Foundation’s president & CEO.

For more information or to enroll, contact Adam's House at (203) 513-2808, or at