"The hardest thing in the world is to tell your children that they will never see their other parent again," he said.
Her children would cry much during the night's sleep because they lost their dad. Crosby is worried about how he will face in the long run.
"It is very nice to hear people who really understand what you are going through," said Crosby, who is about to imagine for one and a half years. "It's huge to have this support system."
Mary Robinson founded the nonprofit in 2011 to create what she did not have after her father's death from cancer when she was 14. As a result her grades fell, stopped her activities and retired.
"It looked like bad behavior … But it was an example of a sad child's book," Robinson said. "I was not a bad kid. I was a sad kid."
Robinson fought until he got help in the late 20s. Eventually she started volunteering in a child support group and nearly two decades ago she left her job to devote herself to full-time work.
"I really do this work to make sure the other kids do not lose many years of their lives in unresolved sadness," he said. "A parent's death is really a trauma for a child, but he does not have to leave a child injured if he gets support."
Pizza, sticks and a "volcano room"
In Imagine, support begins with a pizza dinner, giving everyone the opportunity to socialize. Then family members and volunteers form a circle and pass around a "stick talk" by presenting themselves and telling who they have lost.
"The definition of loss is really an important part of mourning," Robinson said. "It also normalizes your loss and sadness, so children see that everyone has someone who died and that's incredibly possible."
The concentration is then divided into age groups. Through games or art and craft activities, such as creating memory slots, children and adolescents are encouraged to open and share with volunteer facilitators. A realistic hospital room gives children whose parents suffer from long-term illness a unique way to work through their feelings, while others leave some steam in the "Volcano Room" with stuffed walls, punching pads, and tear-off books.
"It's a place for kids to come and explode like a volcano," Robinson said. "It's a safe way to release their angry feelings … and it makes it easier for children to talk and express themselves."
Parents also support each other and learn ways to help their children mourn.
"They know (their children) have entered this new risk category, so they ask," What do I do? ", Robinson said." Well, we say, "Here are simple ways to hear that children are helping open and here are ways to be a model for how to deal with it. "
At the end of the night, everyone holds their hands in a circle and a squeeze makes her way around one by one. Experience leaves Crosby and her children feeling positive.
"They are always so excited to go," said Crosby. "To know they are so happy and have a chance to talk about their dad … makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing."
"My priority is to raise cheerful, emotionally healthy children … and Imagine helping me do that."
For Robinson, this is the goal.
"I just feel such a sense of joy for them," he said. "I think my dad would be really happy to do something good to get out of his sorrow and pain to lose him, so I think he's really proud."
CNN's Kathleen Toner spoke to Robinson about her work. Below is a version of their conversation.
CNN: You have a specific symbol that can be found throughout the center. What is its significance?
Mary Robinson: In each support group room, we have elephants – it's part of frescoes, stuffed animals, pillows. This is because in our society sadness and loss are the only thing we do not talk about. We are afraid of people who are mourning because we do not know what to say or what to do. But here at Imagine, you are talking about the elephant in the room.
CNN: Is there a time limit for the services you provide?
Robinson: No. This is because the children are mourning and, as they age, they lose their parents completely different. When a 5-year-old dad dies, he misses him in one way. When he starts the Little League at 10 and sees a lot of other dads around him, he can remember and start playing. They need support at various stages of development. Some families have been living for years, just six months – but they are always welcome to come back. There is no timing to mourn, and it is different for everyone.
CNN: What Are Other Ways Imagine Helping People?
Robinson: We will open a center in Newark in April. It's just 20 minutes away from us, but it's a bourgeois community that is a world away from the point of view of resources. Children experience many injuries in their lives. So we are really excited to be working there.
We also provide sadness education in schools. You have classrooms full of students and yet no one prepares the teachers for how to deal with it. So we continue to help teachers and staff understand that there are things they can do to support them.
I believe the world is driven by unresolved sadness. Walk to any healer's office, 12-step meeting or jail, and you'll hear stories of sadness and loss. Loss is part of life, but no one teaches us what you do when you have all these feelings. My goal is to help children develop tools and create supportive communities that can support anyone who mourns.
To donate to Imagine, a crash management center, click on the CrowdRise widget below.