Local businesses partner to help grieving children
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When a loved one dies, a lot of attention naturally goes toward that individual — honoring their life and ensuring their end-of-life intentions are fulfilled.
Survivors can become an afterthought, especially children who might seem like they’re okay but only because they haven’t yet learned how to understand and properly cope with death.
A new resource is now being made available locally to children who are grieving and learning to cope with the loss of a loved one through a partnership between National Guardian Life Insurance Company (NGL) and Thysse Printing Service. Through their collaboration, Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care received 500 copies of When Someone Dies: A Child-Caregiver Activity Book created by the National Alliance for Grieving Children.
According to Maria Lubick, corporate communications specialist for NGL, the National Alliance for Grieving Children collaborated with grief experts, grief centers, and children’s hospitals to gather ideas and/or activities to create the book, which is designed to provide a space where children can remember their loved one who died, identify their own strengths, and connect with their caregiver about grief.
“The activity book provides children and their caregivers with opportunities to interact in positive, healthy ways, while still acknowledging their grief and how to cope with the changes after the loss of someone they love,” says Lubick. “It is an activity book that children can work on alone or with their caregivers. Each activity has suggestions for the caregiver on how they can help children who are grieving. Each child has their own way to cope with grief, so every activity will impact children differently.”
The activity book is filled with pages for bereaved children to draw pictures, play games, and map their feelings. It is designed to guide them as they remember their loved one, learn about the concept of loss and grief, and realize that it’s okay to be happy again.
“My father passed away when I was 12 years old,” notes JJ Giese, sales and marketing at Thysse Printing. “I still vividly remember a lot of downtime while my mother sorted out important details and my brother and I wondered what would happen next. While this activity book will initially help by passing awkward minutes, coping with a myriad of emotions, and working bravely toward a new normal, I expect a high percentage will be maintained as keepsakes.”
The book is divided into five sections:
- Understanding death and remembering with ritual
- What is grief like?
- My support … how I cope with grief
- Grief at school and with friends
- Special days and remembering my special person
Lubick says some of the activities including in the book are:
- Favorite things — This activity allows children to write down their favorite activities and the favorite activities of the person who died. It helps a child identify with person who died, but know that they should still be themselves. It is an opportunity to talk with the child about what makes them unique, and allows the caregiver to plan activities around the child’s favorite things to help develop a strong, trusting relationship.
- Remembering your person — Memories are a way to stay to connected, but they can also be difficult. On one side of the page the child is asked to draw or list memories that are difficult for them to think about. On the other side of the page the child is asked to draw favorite memories of their person. This activity helps the child remember their best times alongside the unpleasant times — the funeral or watching their person’s illness progress, etc. — and opens the channels of communication between the child and caregiver.
- A map of grief — This make believe adventure game allows children to follow a map and label their grief in areas, including volcano of anger, sea of tears, great fog of forgetting, island of loneliness, and more. Because children often express their grief through play, they can draw and write on the colorful map to create their own adventure.