Grief Support for Children
Loss From a Child’s Perspective
Did you know?
- 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.
- 1 out of every 20 children aged 15 and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. (These statistics don’t account for the number of children who lose a “parental figure,” such as a grandparent or other relative that provides care.)
- 56% of children who lost a parent growing up said they would trade a year of their life for one more day with their departed parent.
- 72% of children believe their life would have been “much better” if their parent hadn’t died so young.
- 69% of Americans who lost a parent growing up still think about their parent frequently.
(source: Children’sGriefAwarenessDay.com Fact Sheet)
According to childhood bereavement care experts, children and young people need to be given the opportunity to grieve as any adult would. Trying to ignore or avert the child’s grief is not protective; in fact, it can prove to be extremely damaging as the child enters adulthood. Children and youth, regardless of their age, need to be encouraged to talk about how they are feeling and supported to understand their emotions.
It is also important to remember that children grieve in different ways than adults. Grief is unique, and children will experience different emotions, exhibit unusual behaviors, and respond in their own unique way. A child or young person’s grief differs from that of an adult’s grief because it alters as they develop. Failure to be honest with the grieving child or young person means that their grief is not being acknowledged and this can cause problems later on.
Harrell Funeral Home is an advocate for securing children the help they need to heal from the pain that death brings. Over the years we have partnered with several local organizations to bring families the comfort and care that is necessary to heal.
Do you know of a child who has experienced the loss of a loved one?
We would encourage you to reach out to the following local organizations for assistance.
Camp Agape is a non-denominational, Christian-based program that supports children and families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Trained staff and volunteers are committed to sharing the belief that through Christ there is HOPE. Camp Agape’s programs give families a safe, nurturing, and therapeutic environment for processing their grief.
- Summer Camp is a four-day, three-night camp scheduled in July, at Camp Buckner in the Texas Hill Country. Children between the ages of 7 and 12 attend Camp Agape at no cost to their families.
- Annual Family Retreat for grief recovery is scheduled in the Fall at Camp Buckner. Priority is given to families whose children attend Camp Agape’s summer program.
Footprints Children’s Grief Ministry is a free community-wide program serving children between the ages of 6 and 18 and their families who are experiencing grief and loss due to death or divorce. The program provides a safe, caring environment in which children can learn to identify and cope with their emotions. Most importantly children can learn that “They are not alone.”
- Grief Workshop is one hour, once a week, for ten weeks. All activities and sessions are conducted in a group format consisting of eight to ten children and are led by three trained, non-related adult volunteers. All staff volunteers/facilitators are trained in the overall process, in the specifics of the activities, and how to recognize and work with the grieving children. Youth are placed in peer support groups with other children their age who have gone through similar losses. The activities and games are designed to help children understand their emotions and began to deal with them.
- Parents involvement in the healing process is a huge key to the child’s success. While the children’s sessions are being conducted, a meeting for the parent or guardians with a facilitator trained to answer questions will also be provided on-site.
The Christi Center serves as advocates for the needs of grieving people by providing outreach and education on grief and issues facing the bereaved for schools, businesses, churches, community organizations and allied professionals. They refer clients to over 150 community agencies to ensure that they can meet the broad range of needs grieving families may have. Their services are free to grieving people, for as long as they need them, and open to anyone ages 5 and up in Central Texas.
The Christi Center offers peer-based, loss-specific grief support groups for children, teens, and adults. (i.e., loss of a child, spouse, or any other significant relationship). Groups are facilitated by trained facilitators and supervised by a licensed professional counselor. They also offer special groups that serve victims and family members of violent crime, loss to addiction/overdose, and suicide.
Bradley Vinson is a grief and bereavement expert who travels to deliver ‘Helping grieving students’ workshops and ‘Self-care for caregivers’ workshops. He delivers in-service training for teachers, counselors, and other school personnel that interacts with students. Also, he speaks to organizations and schools who have experienced the death of an employee, student, or who have been impacted by a tragic event in their surrounding community. He says, “Failure to address the needs of grieving children can have short-term effects on their school performance and serious consequences later in life.” He offers helpful resources on his website including:
- Responding to a school crisis: Tips for educators in elementary and secondary schools
- Military Kids: Responding to their grief
- Helping children understand funerals: Planning a special service for children
- After a tragedy: what kids can do
- The grieving teen
- Writing a condolence note to a grieving child or adolescent
- Guidelines for parents to help their children through grief
Grief Support for Adults
Harrell Funeral Home partners with several community leaders to expand grieving resources available to our customers. There are many GriefShare programs available in Austin and we would like to invite you to attend a location near you. GriefShare seminars and support groups are led by people who understand what you are going through and want to help.
The meetings are about ninety minutes and include a video seminar series and discussions. The topics included are essential to recovery from the hurt of loss. The videos feature interviews with grief recovery experts, mini- dramas, and real-life stories of people who have experienced the death of a loved one.
You are invited to join a group at any time during the year, and you are not required to register prior to attending your first session. If you would like to register to attend one of the programs below, please visit www.GriefShare.org, click on “find a group near you” by typing in your zip code, and register. We hope you will take advantage of these resources. Many of our customers have found tremendous healing through their experiences and sharing.
GriefShare Program Partners
- Life Austin Church 8901 West Hwy 71, 2nd Floor, Room 240 Class Meets: Tuesday, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
- Bannockburn Baptist Church 7100 Brodie Lane, Abington Center, AC310 Class Meets: Wednesday, 6:30-8:15 p.m.
- Westoak Woods Baptist Church 2900 W. Slaughter Ln, Community Ministry Bldg, Rm 101 Class Meets: Monday, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
- Dripping Springs United Methodist Church 28900 Ranch Road 12, Rm 106 near Sanctuary Class Meets: Sunday, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
- Lavender Springs (Sunset Canyon Baptist Church Sponsor) 13701 Trautwein Road, Class Meets: Monday, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Jana Gillis – Facilitator
- Hays Hill Baptist Church 1401 FM 1626, Buda Class Meets: 1st & 3rd Thursday each month, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Email Jerry Lyons (email@example.com) to register.
13 GriefShare Sessions
- Is this normal? Why your grief experience is harder than you imagined and why the intensity and duration of your emotions are normal and appropriate; Despite how you feel right now, there is reason for hope
- Challenges of Grief. You’ll learn more eye-opening reasons why your pain is so overwhelming, and some of the overlooked, yet common, effects grief has on your mind, body, and spirit. Also, tips for how to get things done when you don’t feel like you have any energy.
- The Journey of Grief – Part One. You’ll learn helpful goals to set on your journey of grief, how to deal with those who try to rush you through your grief, and how long the journey of grief typically lasts.
- The Journey of Grief – Part Two. You’ll learn why it’s important to put effort into your healing and how the events surrounding your loved one’s death affect your grief. Also, ways to deal with your loved one’s belongings.
- Grief and Your Relationships. You’ll find out how the death of a loved one affects your friendships, and why solitude can be a blessing and a curse, and how to deal with friends who don’t understand your grief.
- Why? This session demonstrates that God wants you to share your feelings with Him and why being honest with God is an expression of faith. Learn what God has to say to you about your “why” questions.
- Guilt and Anger. You’ll learn how to deal with false guilt, how to grieve conflicted relationships, and how to handle grief-related anger.
- Complicating Factors. You’ll begin to see how traumatic experiences affect grief and how to deal with nightmares and flashbacks. Also, how your thinking affects your emotions.
- Stuck. You’ll discover how to prevent getting stuck in grief and common misconceptions that hinder healing, and why your path to healing isn’t always smooth.
- Lessons of Grief – Part One. You’ll become aware of an often-overlooked reason that grief is so painful. Why going to church can be so difficult and the benefits of helping others.
- Lessons of Grief – Part Two. This session provides a more complete picture of who you are now that your loved one is gone. Why no one grieves perfectly and what grief can teach you about relationships.
- Heaven. Session 12 answers questions about heaven and the afterlife, such as what heaven is like, whether you should communicate with your deceased loved one, whether near-death experiences are reliable descriptions of heaven, and many more.
- What Do I Live for Now? You’ll learn why moving forward is a necessity. Why it’s a process and why peace and pain will always coexist.
Domani for Grief Support Platform:
Visit the Domani Support Platform to access over 30+ free courses, 24/7 support and access to specialized grief therapists. These courses are presented by several different industry experts and offered to you at no cost to help guide you through this period of healing. Visit Domani For Grief at: http://bit.ly/2V2XDOp and enter the code: harrell to register for your free account. When you register for an account, you will also be signed up to receive a series of twelve grief support emails. The emails include helpful information, an activity, and a clip from a video. Some of the topics include: Knowledge is power, giving your emotions a voice, moving on is not about forgetting, new and changing roles, accepting loss, etc.
Center for Loss & Transition
A leading provider of information and inspiration in the areas of illness and dying, loss and grief, healthy caregiving, life transition, and spirituality.
GriefNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss. They have many email support groups. Their integrated approach to online grief support provides help to people working through loss and grief issues.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.
Harrell Funeral Home also offers a host of additional grief resources including a comprehensive library of articles and book excerpts from world-renowned grief expert, Dr. Alan Wolfelt. Please let us know if we can help you heal in any other way.