National Children’s Grief Awareness
National Children’s Grief Awareness Day held on November 19, 2015, reminds us of the growing needs of grieving children and the benefits of the support they receive from the community. Grief and loss are a natural part of the life cycle process, and its experience is unique to the individual. Greensboro Children’s Hospital explains how a child’s brain is malleable and open to learning different ways of processing and coping with loss. It is crucial that practitioners, caregivers and friends, provide a supportive and nurturing environment; as this will aid the child in adapting the healthiest coping practices. Empathy, understanding and patience are essential in amalgam of support; as the bereavement period and severity may cause rippled distress to others affected. It is imperative to honor the unique individual experience for a child as they process the impact of the loss and future implications. Empathy and understanding are truly essential for the caregiver and support system because of the variation in associated bereavement responses, such as: denial, anger or defiance, bargaining, depression or sadness, anxiousness and/ or Acceptance. With a goal of easing the child’s experience of loss, practitioners will include all available resources to provide support.
Family Therapy is a great resource, with specialists in the pediatric behavioral field that apply a systemic approach to growth and healing. Therapists will engage the bereaved in rituals that honor their loss. Cognitive Behavioral techniques aid the child in identifying faulty thinking that essentially enhances their distress ex. blame or guilt. Art therapy may be utilized for younger or non-verbal children or truly any child that enjoys expressing themselves through artistic creativity. Relaxation techniques are fantastic tools that include guided imagery, visualization, diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Peer groups are a wonderful resource where children have the opportunity to support one another rather than become isolated, and enhance their own capacity for empathy and respect, while empowering themselves to regain a sense of control through their mutual experiences of loss. Children grow and work through their grief by building upon the strengths of one another.
As the ancient proverb says, “It takes a village”!
Samantha Eve Morris, M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy and Doctoral Student of Behavioral Health is a supporting participant in the annual Miami Children’s Health Foundation 5K & the Children’s Bereavement Center “Steps for Healing” Walk. “This is truly a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and join the community to support our children!”
This year the Steps For Healing Walk will be held on
Saturday November 21st 2015 at 8am – 10am At Zoo Miami. Check out the Children’s Bereavement Center’s website for more information (childbereavement.org)
– Children’s Bereavement Center. http://childbereavement.org
– GHS Children’s Hospital. 2015.
– “It takes a village” (Proverb).