Grief Resources for Children

Savior’s Coordinator of Youth Ministries, Ellen Vosburg, has suggested some activities and resources for helping children process grief. With the death of Marilyn Stewart and the grief our church family is feeling, we hope these resources can be helpful as we talk with the children of Savior.


  • Spend some time over the next weeks and months sharing memories and stories that you and your children have about Marilyn. Share with one another the ways Marilyn influenced your lives and was a friend or spiritual mother or grandmother. Talk about how important she was to who we are today, both as individual families and as a church family.

  • Read Scripture about death and the resurrection together. Good passages to read and reflect on together are Isaiah 25:6-9, John 11:1-44, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58, and Revelation 21:1-7. Observe together what God thinks about death. Be open with one another about the way death makes us feel. Notice how God promises life eternal for his disciples and remember how we will all be with God together in our resurrected bodies. Imagine together what our resurrected bodies might be like.


  • “Talking with My Kids about Death” (Christianity Today): In this article, the author recounts how her children responded to the death of their uncle. She gives good advice about how to lean into children’s questions, wonderings, and imaginings about death.

  • “Good Grief” (Fuller Youth Institute): This article discusses how to help students grieve any loss well. The article is aimed at youth workers, but the principles would be helpful for parents, too. It discusses some tendencies we have when people are grieving that are best to avoid, and then recounts some principles of memory sharing and hopefulness that help students grieve well.

  • “The Dos and Don’ts of Talking with a Child about Death” (Psychology Today): This article provides some helpful dos and don’ts about how your child or teen might react to death and provides suggestions for how to come alongside them in your own grief.

Savior member Alice Teisan also suggests the resources found at GriefShare.

In Memory of Marilyn Stewart


On Saturday evening, around 6:49 p.m. — about the time we finished singing “May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you” in our worship service, which she was listening to — Savior member Marilyn Stewart passed away, surrounded by her loving family.

Marilyn was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in October 2017. She is now face-to-face with Jesus Christ, receiving the goal of her entire life, for as the Bible says, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Marilyn was a founding member of Church of the Savior in 2004, and she was a long-time staff member with her husband, Doug, leading spiritual formation. Marilyn also helped launch some of Savior’s most beloved traditions, such as the Epiphany Rosca and the Prayer & Picnic in the Park.

Marilyn will be remembered as a wife, mother, and grandmother; a spiritual mother, retreat leader, guide, director, counselor, prophet, truth-teller; and a person who welcomed and gathered and who became a second mother to many. I (Fr. Kevin) frequently meet people who tell me they would not be a Christian today, or would not be serving as a leader today, were it not for Marilyn.

The family will hold a visitation at Williams-Kampp Funeral Home, 430 E. Roosevelt Road in Wheaton on Friday, December 7 from 4 - 8 pm.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 8th, at 1:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 715 N. Carlton Avenue in Wheaton.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the ministry Marilyn served for many years, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students: IFES USA (PO Box 436, Platteville, WI 53818-9920).

Please pray for Marilyn’s family as they grieve: husband, Doug; daughters Elizabeth (and Jamie), Mary (and Angel), and Helen; and grandchildren Daniel, Mariana, Isabel, and Emma.

Spotlight on Deb Nickerson


Deb Nickerson wears many hats at Savior: she is currently the senior warden on the vestry; she coordinates Prayers of the People, church safety, and the nursery schedule; she serves on the worship team and altar cleanup crew; and — if that weren't enough! — she also leads a small group and preaches occasionally. Today, we have the chance to learn a little more about Deb:

Where are you from, and where do you live now?

I grew up in Maine, so I love lobsters, salty air and sailboats. I still have extended family in Maine, but my father lives in Florida with his wife, and my brother lives in NC with his wife and kids.

I’ve lived in Illinois with only slight interruption since 1987. I currently live in Wheaton with a grumpy old man cat, Moses. He is 13 years old.

I have been blessed to have my cousin, Erika, move to town in the past year, with her husband Andy and their two kids, Thad (5) and Amelia (3). I enjoy playing auntie to Thad and Amelia whenever I can!

What do you do when you’re not at church?

I am a psychologist with a small private practice, Nickerson & Associates, PC, just down the road from the church. We specialize in breaking the cycle of sexual violence, working with people who have sexual behavior problems, as well as survivors of trauma.

I love to work out and have coffee with my friends at the Wheaton Sport Center. I enjoy wine and food! In the summer, I grow herbs and flowers. I also enjoy traveling to spend time with family and friends. Last year I traveled to Paris to visit Dr. Alan Savage, and a few years before that I traveled to Spain to visit my friend who is in ministry outside of Madrid. This summer, I traveled to an exotic location — Red Wing, Minnesota where I saw the largest boot in the world!

Favorite quote:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is facing a great battle.” Philo of Alexandria

How can people get involved in the ministries you lead?

In terms of nursery, it is vital to provide a safe place for our smallest Friends of the Savior at our church. Since I work in my practice with so many who were not kept safe as children, this ministry has a special place in my heart. So, I coordinate the schedule for our nursery workers and have responsibilities to maintain safety practices for childcare at Savior. We are always searching for additional folks to help with childcare. 

The Prayers of the People are an opportunity to lead our parish in praying for our church and our world. It is my job to gather the concerns, requests, and needs of our people and compile them into a prayer for each Saturday service. If anyone is interested in leading the prayers, I would welcome more participation.

Our Women’s prayer group has met for about 10 years, one Sunday morning a month. We have about a dozen women who join in my living room to study Christian writings and scripture, and to support each other in prayer. Every fall, we retreat together to enhance our spiritual lives and deepen our friendship connection. This group is open to more members who are interested. 

If anyone is interested in any of these ministries, please contact me at

Word from Father Kevin & Mother Karen

As we near Thanksgiving, Karen and I feel especially thankful for all of you.

 Our C4SO dean, Patrick Wildman, commented recently, “I tell our younger pastors, ‘Look for a church that not only wants to be cared for by you, but that is willing to care for you when you need it.”  We have found that at Savior.  A healthy church has a kind of mutuality, the give-and-take that you see in a strong family. 

 Last month I was telling a friend, who’s worked for years on church staffs, about how well the people of Savior have cared for Karen and me during her long stretch of pain and surgeries. He said in reply, “I’ve been on staff at two churches, and I’ve never gotten what you’re talking about.”

 Thank you for your care for us.