Hospice Offers New Children's Grief Support Groups
Have you ever loved a child who’s lost a parent, sibling, or friend to death? In the United States, one in every twenty children under the age of 18 has lost at least one parent. Every 90 seconds a teen commits suicide. Every 13 minutes someone dies in a car crash, most of them under the age of 18. It is likely that a child in your life has or will experience loss. When a child has a loved one who is very ill, that child may be grieving already. Developing a trusted source of support before the death of a loved one may help the child cope.
Watching a child grieve is a helpless and painful experience. It’s even more complicated if you are grieving too. The social norm is to believe that time heals all wounds and life must go on, but the reality is the pain of grief can cause physical and emotional trauma if it is not dealt with in a healthy manner. Grief counseling and support groups can aid children in processing the difficult emotions and provide a safe place to talk about their feelings.
Cup of Feelings is a new grief support program just for children. Hosted by the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice in Sheboygan Falls and facilitated by bereavement and psychotherapy experts, Cup of Feelings provides a safe peer group where children can help each other while receiving individualized support as needed.
Grief support groups for children must to be age-specific and appropriate for the child’s developmental stage. Preschool aged children do not possess a good concept of time or the permanency of death and may frequently ask when the deceased is coming back. Breaking the news to them over and over again that their loved one will not return is heartbreaking. Caregivers and guardians may need support in helping young children grasp this reality.
Grade-school aged children begin to understand that death is final, but may believe that all deaths are the result of dangerous or violent acts. Some fear that death is contagious. Older adolescents have a more accurate concept of death and begin to think a lot about their own mortality. At every developmental stage, children benefit from compassionate support. Children’s grief support groups allow age-appropriate expression and help children realize that they are not alone.
Cup of Feelings will provide two support groups, one for children ages 5-11 and one for adolescents ages 12-18. Meetings will be held once a month for each group after school at the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Chapel. Parents or guardians must accompany the 5-11 year olds and will learn how to help them at home. Adult grief support groups are also available on different dates.
A Cup of Feelings kick-off celebration and balloon release is scheduled for September 30th from 4:00-6:00 pm at the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice gardens. If you would like to attend or refer a family, visit www.ssrhospicehome.org/events or call Marianne Brandt at 920-467-7950 for more information.