You Are Not Alone
For more than 20 years, Supporting Kidds has counseled hundreds of grieving children and their families. And the organization’s efforts continue to grow.
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Talking with other kids his age who had similar feelings helped Jonathan. The kids’ sessions are divided into age groupings to allow for developmentally appropriate games and discussions. Younger children need help understanding that death is permanent. Older children benefit from talking about their deceased parent, which is sometimes easiest through a game. On show-and-tell night, the children bring in objects that remind them of the parent who died. Telling the others why the object has significance makes it easier to talk about their loved ones overall and to express their emotions, Van Doren says.
“The first week, kids come in with their heads hanging low and dragging their feet, but within a few weeks they come in skipping and smiling. They want to be with us,” says Suzi Ashmead of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, a volunteer who has facilitated group sessions for more than a decade.
While the kids are meeting, the parents discuss how they can help their children with the grieving process. “The parents give each other advice,” Ashmead says. “The parents leave here with so much more confidence in their ability to help their kids.”
Counseling does make a difference, Samantha says. “If you didn’t go and talk to someone, you’d probably end up in your house alone every day crying. I learned that it’s OK to cry sometimes and miss my dad, and that you can still go on with your life even though you’ve lost a big part of it.”