Grown-ups for growing up
We empower people to address grief before it becomes suffering.
Welcome to Elizabeth's Smile, where you can make connections and form your own supportive community, or gain access to information about grieving that you can trust is relevant and carefully vetted.
Losing a parent shouldn't mean losing a childhood, or being disadvantaged because you lose that parent's network, the love of people who care, and the opportunities they bring. We help grieving children - and the people in their orbit - cope with the loss of a parent and preserve communities of adults that care for these vulnerable children, and can provide love and support at times that matter.
Data shows unresolved grief leads to a lifetime of challenges (1). There is no preventing grief, but in developing programs shaped by rigorous research, we provide help and guidance to children, and those who care for them, giving each grieving child the best chance of a happy life.
2.8 Million Children
in the United States have lost a
parent to a terminal illness. 76,000 children are impacted by a parent's diagnosis with an incurable cancer each year (2)
in the United Kingdom lose a parent to illness each year. That's more than 100 every day.
4.7% or 1 in 20
children in the US and UK will experience the death of one or both of their parents by the age of 16.
Welcome to the Smile Network
A secure online community, where adults commit to helping children when they need it
We are in the process of creating a proprietary online community -- the Smile Network -- that will offer social connection for children and parents, to ensure the ill parents’ network endures, and children get the help they need.
Parents can create a network of friends and family to support their child (or children). They'll be called on to provide support when needed - everything from finding a job to remembering a special day. Children can learn about their parent directly from the Network, accessing a virtual memory box filled with stories, videos, pictures, and other special memories. To be compliant with all regulations, children under 13 can only access the network through a parent.
The Network is in development now. If you're interested in joining our waitlist, or testing our network, click the button below.
For those Supporting Children
Parents or caregivers will invite you to join their network. Once in, you become part of a promise made to each child that those who are part of the Network will be there to provide support when needed.
As part of this special community, you can help fill a virtual memory box with stories and pictures about the ill or deceased parent. You'll reply to calls for help - it could be everything from relationship advice to information about a university or travel, finding a job or help finding support on a difficult day.
The network is now in development. If you are interested in being part of its testing, or if you'd like to be added to our waitlist to ensure you're one of the first to enjoy its benefits, click the button below.
Guided by World Class Research
Comprehensive, rigorous research is conducted to ensure we have science behind the action
In order to determine how best to support grieving children, and make the most effective and efficient use of our dollars, we are conducting what we believe is the first-of-its-kind research in the field, combining academic, ethnographic, and focus group research, overseen by our Scientific Advisory Committee.
We are partnering with some of the world's leading researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to build our research program. We intend for this research to be open source, and shared with other nonprofits, organizations, clinicians, and academics.
Our research initiative is fueled by our commitment to continuous learning, which is a core part of who we are and how we approach our work.
Meet some of the children
The inspiration for our name, Elizabeth represents the promise each child we support holds.
Known for her vibrant smile, she is the child of our co-founders, Nick and Nancy Hungerford.
We're creating Elizabeth's Smile so that she and other children will be supported as they grow, and know they're never alone.
Lexi and Elyse
After they lost their mother to cancer at ages 5 and 3, they received support from her father, coaches and teachers, both earning all academic and athletic honors in high school and college. But despite the honors, they still feel the depth of the loss and struggle at times with their grief. They yearn to learn more about their mom and connect with her network, which is why they are looking forward to joining the Smile Network in 2023.
Sara lost her mother to cancer as a child. Through innate skill, hard-work and a will to endure that came from her experience with grief, she became a soccer all-star who will soon be starting a career in Investment Banking
She wishes, however, that people weren't so hesitant to talk about grief, and she realizes how valuable those discussions are at any age. So, Sara is looking forward to the development of the Playbooks because they will provide practical advice about how best to support a grieving child.
Playbooks for supporting children
Currently in development, the Playbooks are meant to help those guiding the children through different ages and stages of a child's life
We are developing a series of playbooks or "how-to" guides to help those who surround the child, like friends, cousins, teachers, friends, etc, understand how best to support the children at different ages and stages of their lives.
Starting with two that will be influenced by our research, we will eventually produce a series of playbooks in a variety of formats (I.e. videos, print, coloring books).
When complete, you'll find the entire series of playbooks on our site. All materials are free and will be vetted by professionals.
Want to get involved? Consider being a volunteer.
We love volunteers! If you have a specific skill set you bring, like accounting, fundraising or event management -- we'd love to connect with you. Similarly, if you have experience with a terminally ill parent, we are looking for volunteers to serve on a special committee comprised of people with experience, to ensure we get feedback on our work from those with lived experience. -- Please contact us.
Share a smile with a grieving child. Learn more...
We believe passionately in Random Acts of Smiling. Children, while grieving, need to be children, and what's better for a child than a smile? If you want to be a part of the team that develops this work, please get in touch.
Comprehensive research efforts launched
Working with a team from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we are embarking on a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind research project. In this initial phase, the team will conduct a literature review to assess the state of academic research relating to childhood bereavement. The research project will aim to include separate focus groups and ethnographic research in the future. The initial phase of research is expected to take up to three years to complete.