The death of a parent, sibling, or someone close can be devastating for children and teens of all ages. Children experience a range of intense emotions including sadness, anger, fear, and guilt. They often feel isolated and unable to talk about the death with peers who have not had a similar experience. They also may be reluctant to share their grief with surviving family members for fear of upsetting them. Too often, children end up grieving alone.
“What surprised me most was how comfortable I felt in my group. I actually looked forward to going to the meetings and working on all the projects we did. My group helped me feel like I wasn’t the only one feeling like I did after my mom died.” – Justine, 16
“The group was helpful to my children because they talk more openly about their dad and his death. They don’t feel they are the only ones who have experienced the death of a parent. I saw a huge change for the better in each of my children.” – Elizabeth, Parent of 3
In OUR grief support groups, children ages 4 through 18, who have experienced the death of a parent, join groups that are specific to the age of the child. Using grief-related art projects, writing exercises, and play activities, highly trained group leaders support the children as they make their way through their grieving process. Activities are designed specifically to help children hold on to their precious memories, express thoughts and feelings, adapt to the many changes in their lives, and memorialize their parent who died.
Children’s groups always end with a ritual – a gentle squeeze of friendship and support.
Group members stand in a circle, with hands crossed and held in front of them, and the squeeze travels around the circle one person at a time.
The squeeze is in recognition of the thoughts and feelings shared in group and a way of sending each other support.