“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 (Mister Rogers)-
Night Lights our 8-9 year old support group created last year.
What support is available for children who are grieving a death of a loved one?
If your child needs immediate support, begin with the school counselor. The school counselor will have resources; such as, picture books about dealing with loss. The school counselor can also inform you about support groups/camps in the area.
Children are often nervous at first about participating in a support group. I have volunteered for 11 years at a bereavement center. After the first group session, children always want to return a second time. A child usually participates for 2 years in our groups. We call it “rocking out” when it’s time for a child to leave the group. There’s a special ceremony on their last night- we have a few rocking out at the end of May. (They are sad to leave, but are definitely ready.)
Support groups are beneficial for several reasons. Children learn- “I’m not the only one going through this.” It’s a safe place for kids to discuss their feelings.
At Safe Harbor, we have a music therapist and an art therapist who visit groups. There’s several rooms that provide a warm and comfortable environment for grieving children, teens, young adults and their families.
Every group session runs the same way- an opening circle, activity/play time, and closing. The groups meet every other week during the school year. Then, Safe Harbor offers a week-long camp in June. This past winter, they offered a special weekend called the “Harboring Hope Project.” It was a music and art experience for kids/teens. We have a Movie Premier in May of the activities that took place. I am really looking forward to the showing!
A recording space filled with instruments, drums, and equipment to foster expression of feelings through music and rhythm.
The Volcano room has cushioned walls/floors and punching bags. This room creates a place where children can express their anger, rage, and sadness- or just have fun within a protected setting.
A spacious and well supplied art room is filled with materials which encourage participants to express their emotions and creativity.
To find grief support and services in your area, check out the following websites:
The National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC)
The NAGC provides a network for nationwide communication between hundreds of professionals & volunteers who want to share ideas, information, and resources with each other to better support the grieving children and families they serve in their own communities. Click on a state to find grief support in your local area:
The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children & Families
The Dougy Center provides a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families who are grieving a death to share their experiences. They offer peer support groups, education, and training. Check out their website below to search 5oo listings of grief centers that provide support and services:
There are national and local summer camps offered across the United States.
Camp Erin, created and funded by The Moyer Foundation
Camp Erin is the largest nationwide network of free bereavement camps for children and teens ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them. There are nearly 48 camp locations nationwide. If you are interested in a Camp Erin summer camp, check out their website below for a camp in your area:
Send me a message if you have any questions about bereavement groups for kids/teens.
Memory place mats for Thanksgiving.
Lanterns to remember loved ones.
If you are new to my website, there’s an updated RESOURCE LIST that contains several articles on helping children/teens with grief.
“Be a RAINBOW in someone else’s CLOUD.”