10/26/2017 One out of seven children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 20, according to the National Alliance of Grieving Children (NAGC). More than ever, these grieving children and their families need support. Please join Home Nursing Agency’s Healing Patch in supporting grieving children.
“Over the past 11 years, the Healing Patch has provided grief services to hundreds of local families following the death of a loved one,” shares Allison Stockley, manager of volunteers and bereavement services for Home Nursing Agency and Family Hospice. “We accompany children and families during the difficult journey of piecing their lives back together…without their loved one.”
The Thursday before Thanksgiving is set aside each year as Children’s Grief Awareness Day for an annual opportunity to recognize the unique needs of grieving children. You can show support simply by wearing blue on Nov. 16.
For the third year, volunteers created hundreds of handmade blue butterfly pins, as a blue butterfly is the symbol of hope for grieving children. Stop by any Home Nursing Agency office to make a donation (suggested donation of $1 each) and choose a pin to wear for Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
Pictured: Volunteers at the Home Nursing Agency Healing Patch in Cambria County kicked off the preparations for Children’s Grief Awareness Day on Nov. 16 displaying their blue butterflies – each unique and special just like the grief journey of every child. Pictured kneeling from left are Heidi Cobaugh, Laura Halligan, Maria Brown and Carrie Waksmunski. Standing from left are Beth Burkhart, Tammy Brletrick, Monica Klatt, Jeannette Price, Sue Glass, Sharon Troy and Regis Schall.
“We greatly appreciate our Healing Patch volunteers, community members and local sewing/quilting groups for their ongoing support of this important project,” explains Melody Ray, Healing Patch volunteer coordinator/grief specialist/social worker who coordinates the HNA “Butterfly Project”. “The uniqueness of each handmade butterfly is what makes it so special. Through this project we are hoping to increase the awareness of the grieving children in our community. Donations raised will be used to purchase materials for grief support groups held in Blair and Cambria counties, as well as in-school peer support groups.”
Do you interact frequently with a grieving child? Here are some more direct ways you can help:
- Be honest with the child. Discuss in a simple, direct and age-appropriate manner.
- Listen. Let the child share his story about what happened. Let him ask questions and do your best to answer. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
- Acknowledge the child’s grief. A child’s grief looks very different than an adult’s. It is normal for children to move in and out of grief reactions, at times being very upset or getting angry easily and at other times playing as if nothing has happened.
- Share. Tell the child stories about your own life. Times you were afraid, sad or angry. Tell them how you dealt with these situations and what you learned. Children love to hear stories about the adults in their lives and when those adults were children. Sharing stories helps a child normalize what he or she is experiencing.
- Be creative. Give the child a creative outlet to express feelings. This can be done through drawing, writing, doing crafts, listening to music, or playing games.
- Maintain clear expectations. Keep rules and boundaries consistent. Children gain security when they know what is expected from them. Children will often use their pain as an excuse for inappropriate behavior. While you should always acknowledge the grief your child is experiencing, you should also teach them to be accountable for their choices, no matter how they feel.
- Create rituals and new family traditions. Rituals can give your family tangible ways to acknowledge your grief and honor the memory of those who have died. Lighting candles, recognizing special occasions, sharing stories about those who have died or volunteering with a local charity as a family are some of the ways you can incorporate new traditions or rituals.
Click here to learn more about local grief resources or refer a child/family for services, or contact us at 1.800.445.6262.
About the Healing Patch
Home Nursing Agency started the Healing Patch: A Program for Loss and Hope for Grieving Children and Their Families in 2006 as a free peer support program for children and their families who have suffered the loss of a loved one, such as a parent, sibling, grandparent, or close family member. Since that time, the program has expanded to support children through in-school services, lending libraries and other community services. Sharing memories and experiences allows grieving children and families to discover that what they are going through is normal and that hope and healing are possible. The Healing Patch is a free service to the community and relies on individual and community donations, grants and fundraising events for support. If you would like to support the Healing Patch by donating or volunteering, please contact Home Nursing Agency at 1.800.445.6262 or www.homenursingagency.com. Home Nursing Agency is supported by the United Ways of Bedford County, Blair County, Huntingdon County and the Laurel Highlands.