Children’s Grief Awareness Day: November 17, 2016 by Joni Hay Patras


 (Safe Harbor’s Blue Ribbon of Hope Project for Children’s Grief Awareness Day 2015)

When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

Fred Rogers

* 1 out of every 20 children aged 15 and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents.

* 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.

National Children’s Grief Awareness Day is focused on bringing to mind the children all around us who experienced the death of a loved one. It is observed the Thursday before Thanksgiving every year.

For more information, visit

If you work or interact with children, it’s essential to become educated on how children grieve. Some people think that after a certain amount of time, a child’s grief will be over.  This is not true.

FACT:  Children reprocess their loss as they age. 

Support systems need to available for EVERY child as they get older.  Children need to know they are not alone. Children experience loss in different ways than adults.  Support groups utilize different modalities (art, music, drama, exercise) for the child to work through their grief.  To find a support group in your area, click on the following links:


1.  Wear BLUE clothing on November 17, 2016.

2.  Grief Education.  Read articles about how children and teens grieve.  I have an extensive resource list on my website containing articles for educators and caregivers.

3.  Consider contacting a bereavement center in your area to see how you can help. Most centers have “wish lists.” If you belong to an organization, consider having a fundraiser to collect items on the wish list. (Markers, molding clay,  paint brushes, paint, empty shoe boxes, stickers, puppets, etc…)

Another way to help is by volunteering as a support group facilitator at a center in your area.  I discovered the Safe Harbor Bereavement Center during my first year as a school counselor in Pennsylvania. I just knew that I was supposed to be involved with this program.  And I’ve been there ever since my training in 2004.

The children and teens usually participate for 2 years.  There is also a week-long camp every summer.  A few participants have now become “camp buddies” to the younger children. And some have even become volunteer support group facilitators.  These groups are offered to children and teens with no cost.  Safe Harbor currently supports over 130 children and teens, 70 parents, and 4 young adults.

Bereavement centers are always looking for new volunteers.  Support groups usually meet every other week.  Teaching or counseling experience is not required to become a volunteer facilitator. Bereavement centers offer a training, along with information on activities. Consider making a difference in the lives of children.


“Be a RAINBOW in someone else’s CLOUD

-Maya Angelou


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