Going through a bereavement is often a distressing and confusing time, and just like adults, children grieve and cope in many different ways. The reactions children can have to the death of someone who is significant to them depend on factors such as their support network, age and environment (to name a few). Grief can affect children negatively in the long run, however, early intervention and support has been proven to help children grieve in a healthy way, avoiding emotional issues later on in life.
Luckily, there are lots of ways we can support children. The approaches can differ depending on age and personality, but there are a few core ways to help:
- Children may need reassurance and affirmation that the person who has died loved them and didn’t want to leave them
- Be honest: children are very perceptive and have active imaginations. Being honest is sometimes hard but will avoid any confusion
- Avoid euphemisms like ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘passed away’. Being clear and direct with your language ensures the child understands the situation
- Answer all questions to the best of your ability. It is ok to say ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know. Why do you ask that?’
- Maintain a sense of routine and normality
- Share your feelings with the child, showing them that expressing emotions is a healthy way to cope
- Use photographs or belongings of the person who has died to help maintain a connection and as a talking point
At Peace Hospice Care we care for people with life-limiting illnesses, and support their families and children too. We offer support post-bereavement to adults, as well as children – through our Mindcraft bereavement workshops.
Mindcraft workshops, for children aged 5-16, provide participants with the opportunity express themselves through creative activity and play, and meet others who have had similar experiences. Children are placed in age appropriate groups and take part in a new and interesting art activity each week, exploring their idea of loss and celebrating life. We also run informal parent/carer sessions alongside the children’s workshops.
Our team of staff and trained volunteers enable families to explore their journey through grief in a safe environment, signposting them to further support and building trusting relationships with every participant. One parent who participated in a previous Mindcraft, said: “The children really enjoyed coming to the Mindcraft group. Meeting other children like them and being surrounded by volunteers who understand was very beneficial to the children. The parent group was great as it gave great insight on how to help yourselves and your children.”
The next group of Mindcraft workshops run 14th, 21st, 28th March and 4th April 2020. We also run a drop-in Information Day on 29th February 2020, providing a chance for those interested to find out more about the workshops. To find out more about Mindcraft, or to register for the workshops, please call: 01923 330 330, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see: www.peacehospicecare.org.uk/mindcraft