How to help a grieving child
A Foundation Community Grant helped support bereaved children with group counselling sessions as they learn to live with the impact of grief and trauma following the death of a parent.
Children grieve significant losses in their lives just as intensely as adults. Sadly, one in 20 Australian children have experienced the death of a parent, leaving them at risk of negative long-term effects if left untreated.
A recent Community Grant helped fund ‘A Friend’s Place’, an ongoing group counselling workshop run by the National Centre for Childhood Grief (NCCG).
Grieving children often feel different and alone. Group counselling introduces them to others who’ve experienced a big loss, helping them understand their grief response is a normal reaction to death.
A grieving father’s story
Reeling from the death of his beloved wife, Kyle* and his little daughter turned to ‘A Friend’s Place’ to help them cope.
“When my wife died at the age of 38, leaving me with a 3-year-old little girl, struggling to understand what had happened to her mother and why, I faced new challenges that I was ill-equipped to handle.
‘A Friend’s Place’ was a godsend and the dedicated team of volunteer counsellors enabled me to help my daughter make some sense of her new life. There she found a place that was caring and accepting without question. A place where she could meet other children who had suffered a similar fate, and a place where she could be herself and express her feelings without judgement by others who did not understand what she was going through.”
How do grieving children feel?
Bereaved children attending group counselling sessions at ‘A Friend’s Place’ had the following to say:
- “We don't talk about my mum at home much anymore because it makes us all cry. I only talk about her at ‘A Friend's Place’.” Milly, 7
- “I spend more time on my own since dad died, or with friends. Mum is too busy to talk to me much. I'm scared she will die too because she gets so tired.” Tim, 10
- “I don't sleep as well since my mum died and I worry a lot more. I think I am quieter because I don't feel as important. I'm glad that the people at ‘A Friend's Place’ have time to listen.” Jade, 11
- “I think I'm stronger and smarter since my mum died, and everyone says I talk a lot more. I try hard to take care of my little brother because dad is so busy.” Michelle, 10
- “My whole family has changed since dad died. No more hospital visits. Mum is softer and less hard on me. She seems more understanding since we went to ‘A Friend's Place’.” Anthony, 11
- “I am so sad all of my body hurts.” Matthew, 5
Therapy moves online
Like many of our community grant recipients, the NCCG adapted quickly to social distancing requirements and, in April 2020, began running its counselling sessions via Zoom.
“Many of our bereaved families are really struggling during this time as their grief has exacerbated due to COVID-19 and they are missing their loved ones even more intensely,” explains NCCG Development Manager Annette Gurr. “Being able to provide them access to our services online during lockdown and ongoingly has been a massive support to them.”
What is the Community Grants Program?
Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small organisations that use clever ways to fight poverty, loneliness, suffering and oppression. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our Community Grants Program.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
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