Be there – Teaming up to help children cope with grief

GriefCardChildren and teens who have had a loved one die often feel alone in their grief, like nobody understands what they’re going through. Experiencing a death can be overwhelming for anyone, but it is especially difficult for those so young. Grieving children need support. And the first step in that support is for the rest of us to become more aware of what these kids are going through.
That’s why Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association’s Hospice Program and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Craig and Steamboat Springs are teaming up for Children’s Grief Awareness Day – November 21.  Observed on the third Thursday of every November (one week before Thanksgiving), it is intentionally set in the holiday season, often a particularly difficult time for those grieving the loss of a loved one.

Events will take place on Wednesday, November 20 from 4pm-5pm at the Boys and Girls Club in Craig and from 4pm-5pm Thursday, November 21 at the Boys and Girls Club in Steamboat Springs. After speaking to the children briefly about positive ways to deal with loss, they will have the opportunity to decorate a banner and draw pictures with the theme of Hope.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. (Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying)
  • In a poll of 1,000 high school juniors and seniors, 90% indicated that they had experienced the death of a loved one. (The Highmark Caring Foundation)
  • 1 in every 1,500 secondary school students dies each year. (The Highmark Caring Foundation)
  • 1 out of every 20 children aged ¬fifteen 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. (The Highmark Caring Foundation)
  • 1.5 million children are living in a single-parent household because of the death of one parent. (The State of America’s Children, 1998 Yearbook, Children’sDefense Fund)
  • Mortality rates for adults in their 40s and 50s in the past two decades have risen dramatically, making it more likely that younger children will experience the death of a parent, or a classmate’s parent. “Kids are encountering death more often and at a younger age—it’s just inevitable,” says Gerald Koocher, chief of psychology at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. (Wall Street Journal, Early Grief Article, February 18, 1999)
  • It is estimated that 73,000 children die every year in the United States. Of those children, 83 percent have surviving siblings. (Annie’s Hope the Bereavement Center for Kids, 2005)

How can you help a friend in need?
Someone you know has experienced the death of a loved one. You want to help, but you aren’t sure how. What do you say? What do you do? How can you help a grieving friend? You can help by just being there.

  • Be there to listen if they want to talk about a person who died.
  • Be there to sit with them even when they don’t feel like talking.
  • Be there to o¬ffer a hug when they need it.
  • Be there to visit, call, send an e-mail, a text message or a card.
  • Be there and just be yourself.

“Children’s Grief Awareness Day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children and of the benefits that they obtain through the support of others” said Sandy Beran of NWCOVNA.

For more information or if you  know someone who needs support, please contact Sandy Beran, Spiritual, Bereavement & Volunteer Coordinator at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association at 970-871-7682 or orKaty Thiel, Medical Social Worker at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association at 970-871-7628 or

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