“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”
-Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)
Children’s Grief Awareness Day was created in 2008 by The Highmark Caring Place and hundreds of schools across the state. It is observed every year on the third Thursday in November. This time of year is a particularly appropriate time to support grieving children because the holiday season can be difficult for them.
THEIR MISSION: TO HELP GRIEVING CHILDREN FEEL LESS ALONE AND TO RECEIVE THE SUPPORT THEY NEED.
Why do we need adequate support and counseling for bereaved children?
♦ According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1.5 million children are living in a single-family household because of the death of one parent.
♦ One out of every 20 children age fifteen 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.
Ways to Participate in Children’s Grief Awareness Day:
1. Wear blue on November 19, 2015. I thought of an idea that could be used in schools. Teachers/school staff or business organizations could donate a dollar to wear BLUE JEANS to raise awareness. The money will then be donated to a local grief center that helps children/teens.
2. Educate yourself. I listed a few websites with helpful information on dealing with children who are grieving.
I highly recommend the following website (National Alliance For Grieving Children) that contains articles and helpful links about providing understanding and support to grieving children. For example: Ten Things Grieving Children Want You To Know/ How To Help a Grieving Child/ How To Help a Grieving Teen/ Ten Ways To Help a Grieving Child/ Holidays/ Crisis, Trauma, and Grief.
♥ How To Provide Understanding and Support To Grieving Children
Article by Elissa Nadworny published on January 13, 2015. Helping teachers and educators to deal with student grief. Avoiding comparisons. Saying “My father died, too” shifts attention to a competing loss and away from the grieving student.
♥ Grief in the Classroom: Saying Nothing Says Alot
Articles on: Understanding Grief and Loss/ Coping With Grief/ Helping Grieving Children and Teenagers/ Grieving the Loss of a Sibling/ Understanding Grief Within a Cultural Context/ Coping With Change After a Loss.
♥ Grief and Loss
3. Call a local grief center in your area to inquire about a “wish list.” Some grief centers may be in need of art supplies (clay, markers, paint, paint brushes) or toys (puppets, dress up clothes, etc…).
4. If you are part of a grief center, coordinate a project for Children’s Grief Awareness Day. At Safe Harbor, we are making a Blue Ribbon Hope Chain to be displayed in the hallway. Each child, teen, and parent, and volunteer is instructed to write the name of a loved one who died on one side of a blue ribbon paper. On the other side, they can write a message to a loved one who died/ or write a message of support to other children and teens who are grieving. We will then link the blue ribbons together into a chain.
Go to http://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org for more information on how to participate. The website lists several projects that you may use. The website also lists helpful articles on helping children deal with grief under “Resources.”
* Be aware that if you coordinate a project at a school, do not call attention to any particular child who has suffered a loss. Some children/ teens may wish to keep their grief private.