Children’s Grief Awareness Day on Thursday (Nov. 16) raises awareness of children around us who are facing loss. There are more grieving children than most of us realize. One out of every five children will face the death of a parent or someone close to them before they graduate from high school. Many children also grapple with divorce or family situations involving addiction, abuse, violence, chronic illness or incarceration. Other significant life changes, such as moving to a new place or having a parent deployed in the military, can have lasting effects on a child’s health and wellbeing.
Grief can be just as intense for a child as it is for an adult and may last longer. However, children grieve differently and expressing their emotions can be very difficult. Creative activities, such as writing, painting and drawing, and mindfulness tools can help children of all ages understand the bundle of emotions they are carrying. Once they become aware of their feelings, they can learn ways to manage and avoid becoming isolated, depressed or turning to substance use or other harmful means of coping. Northwest Colorado Health’s Youth Resiliency program takes this approach in educating and supporting children, adolescents and teens as they navigate adversity. The program offers loss education groups in schools as well as classroom programs to proactively help youth cope with loss they may encounter and support others going through tough times.
If your child or a child you know is facing a loss, even if they aren’t showing obvious signs of struggle, consider connecting them or their families to a support program and/or a mental health professional specializing in children. Support now will help them build confidence and improve their opportunities for success in school and life. Learn more about Youth Resiliency programs.
Sandy Beran, MCC
Katy Thiel, MSW
Katy Thiel, MSW