Dr. Sarah Brabant began helping children more than 15 years ago when she took her keen intuition and extensive knowledge of grief to develop a program for children who had experienced the death of a sibling. Some years later, Dr. Brabant, professor of sociology at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and other concerned individuals, founded The Grief Center of Southwest Louisiana in 1997 as a safe place for families to grieve and heal, especially children who have had to deal with traumatic loss, including a family member’s murder, suicide or accidental death. The Grief Center allows children to share their grief with others. It provides networking opportunities for area professionals working with grieving persons and it creates an awareness of grief issues as well as education on those issues. The Grief Center is the only one of its kind in the state.
Dr. Brabant writes grant proposals and networks with churches, organizations, the local University and local government to help secure much needed funds. She has also dedicated the royalties from her book, Mending The Torn Fabric, to The Grief Center.
Dr. Brabant’s history of community involvement and volunteerism in southwest Louisiana dates back into the early 1970s when she provided internships for University Senior sociology majors to work in community centers serving the economically disadvantaged. She was a member of the inaugural board of Lafeyette’s first shelter for battered women and their children. Dr. Brabant facilitated the first support group for the local AIDS organization and continues to volunteer there. She assisted Hospice of Acadiana with its volunteer training program in the 1980s. She has also volunteered in a program for children with hearing impairments.
Having just retired in May, Dr. Brabant devotes considerable volunteer time to The Grief Center. She uses her education and experience to bring knowledge and comfort to many that hurt deeply because of the separation brought about by death. The greatest benefactors of her time, talent and treasure are Louisiana’s children. Dr. Brabant impacts not only those children and adults at The Grief Center but in schools, churches and anywhere she is called. Her reward is not monetary. It is knowing that hope is restored in the lives of children and their families who reclaim their faith in themselves and discover the tools to heal and grow.