Who We Are

Love Like Jackson is a 501c3 organization that provides resources to families who’ve experienced child loss. We do so by connecting families with professionals who specialize in childhood sibling loss by financially supporting 12 therapy sessions . We focus our care services on siblings, “the forgotten grievers.”

Our goal is to provide bereaved siblings with every opportunity to process their loss through therapeutic and mental health services.

In February of 2020, Love Like Jackson was founded in St. Louis, Missouri. We are proud to partner with many professionals from Art, Music, and Play therapies. Our vision is that no sibling will grieve alone and that families will know that Love Like Jackson will support them long after the loss of their child.

Our Founder’s Story

In July 2019, seven-year-old Jackson Schmitt died suddenly of cancer. His younger brother, Ivan, was only three years old. While the loss of his only brother destroyed his parents, Ivan grieved in his own way. He worried that his parents would die too and he never wanted to be away from them.

Following the death of her son, Carrie Schmitt sought out grief support services for Ivan. Since he was three years old, she struggled to find a good fit for their family. Carrie connected with local professionals and was able to provide Ivan with play therapy sessions.

After a few sessions, Carrie noticed a big difference in Ivan. He was able to communicate how he was feeling through “pretend play” with toys. Furthermore, he began to feel more independent and confident. Carrie wanted to ensure that other children experiencing grief would be able to access such care. As a result, in February 2020, she established a 501c3 called “Love Like Jackson” to take the guesswork away from families whose lives were flipped upside down by the death of their child.

To read more about Jackson Schmitt visit here.

Why is it important?

  • 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. Children and Grief Statistics (Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying)
  • 73,000 children die every year. 83% have surviving siblings. Children and Grief Statistics. Torbic, H. “Children and Grief: But what about the children?” Home Healthcare Nurse. 2011;29(2):67-79)
  • Children are considered the forgotten grievers. Especially if the loss is a brother or sister.
  • There is a large increase in mental and health risks in bereaved siblings, as well as higher rates of early mortality in adulthood. Fletcher, Jason, Vidal-Fernandez, Marian, and Wolfe, Barbara. “Dynamic and Heterogeneous Effects of Sibling Death on Children’s Outcomes.” PNAS. 2018.

Meet our Team

Carrie Schmitt – BA Psychology/Sociology (Founder)

Carrie Schmitt is a proud mama to two boys, one in heaven and one on earth. She is a writer, fundraiser, grief advocate, and activist for bereaved children and childhood cancer research. She has 18 years of social work experience supporting adults with disabilities. To date, she’s raised over $140K for osteosarcoma research, and collaborated with leading physicians to save children’s lives. In 2021, she started a grief awareness podcast called “Beautiful Tragedy.” She plans on meeting Barack Obama for iced coffee. He just doesn’t know it. Yet.

Melissa Smith MSOT, OTR/L (Treasurer and Administrator Lead)

Melissa is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist with a passion for helping others. She graduated with a master’s degree from Washington University School of Medicine, Program in Occupational Therapy, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McKendree University. Melissa brings 15 years of non-profit experience with management, operations, marketing, finance, fundraising, outcomes measures, and reporting. She enjoys working with people to achieve their goals and live their best life through choice, satisfaction, and independence. She is currently the Associate Director of Care Services with the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter. When she isn’t working, Melissa is keeping up with her very active 7and 9 year-old boys, enjoys organizing life in her planner, crafting, and watching Fixer Upper.  

Jessica Kershenski Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, LCSW, RPT

Jessica Kershenski is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked with children and teens for the past 17 years. She has been in private practice for the past year. Prior to that, she worked as a therapist at Mercy Clinic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She counsels children primarily struggling with anxiety, depression, anger issues, trauma, and grief/loss. She is a registered play therapist as well as an EMDR trained therapist.

Interested in joining our team? Please contact us.