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Archive for April 9th, 2012

Contoveros

Death entered into my life recently and I have never felt more alive than with — and in — its presence.

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Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: kenleyneufeld)

“Freedom means being able to choose how we respond to things. When wisdom is not well developed, it can be easily obscured by the provocations of others. In such cases we may as well be animals or robots. If there is no space between an insulting stimulus and its immediate conditioned response—anger—then we are in fact under the control of others. Mindfulness opens up such a space, and when wisdom is there to fill it one is capable of responding with forbearance.”

~~Andrew Olendzki, “Calm in the Face of Anger”

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There are a wide array of services and resources out there for kids and grief today.  I was lucky to have a family and extended community to be supportive when I lost people I loved.  But not every kid is so lucky and not every kid experiences loss to the kids of experiences I did…. a lot of kids out there lose parents, both parents, siblings, classmates, etc. and not only is a family devastated but some times a whole community is.

What follows here is random things I have come across over the years.

Sesame Street.org I have found a wonderful site with resources for families grieving with kids… Sesame Street.org has a parents section with all kinds of resources for families and special sections on Camps & Centers, Military Family Resources, and Downloadable Materials for the public to use.  Leave it to Sesame Street to be there for families and educating them on grief.  Where would we be without PBS?

Here is their link

Mourning Star Center — ADEC Colleague Pamela Gabbay is an essential part of Mourning Star Center in Califonia.  Take a look at their services..  Here is a link to a project on kids and bereavement that Mourning Star Center helped out with.  Check it out.

Center for Loss and Transition —  When I first needed to learn about kids and grief, I read Alan Wolfelt’s book cover to cover.  I had seen him at a talk outside Pittsburgh right after I had finished graduate school (well, my MA… since I am still in grad school)… Alan had come to talk about adults and grief but I knew any work of his would be a place to start.

Here is his website.  His center is nestled in beautiful Ft. Collins, CO, situated on a bluff that looks down over the whole town.  Alan’s book are a great way to get your feet wet if you want to know about kids and grief professionally.  I think there is a lot more out there but you can’t go wrong with learning about the idea of companioning the grieving.

The Dougy Center:  The National Center for Grieving Children and Families

This is probably the other best name known center for grief and kids, next to Alan’s.  The Dougy Center has provided a safe place for kids, teens, young adults, and families since 1982 in Portland, OR.  Here is there website.  I got to tour The Dougy Center many years ago when I was in Portland for my first ADEC conference.  Amazing work they do!

The M.I.S.S. Foundation

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore founded The M.I.S.S. Foundation, an online support community with 27 different groups which help thousands of members with their forums.  Check out their Kindness Project on their website.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but a few highlights.  If you check out the Blog Roll and go to the ADEC site … Association for Death Education and Counseling, they have amassed a great list of general end-of-life and grief resources.

A few more authors to think about Helen Fitzgerald, Darcy Simms, and Janis L. Silverman.  When it comes to resources for children and grief, I feel safe with all of the abovementioned sources and the fine work they do.  Always check things like books and centers out. Ask other people.  Check with a local hospice or websites like ADEC.  And if something doesn’t feel really right, pass it by.

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Continuing Bonds Continued

Yesterday I talked about how I continue my bond with my father. And today I will talk more about continuing bonds between those we love who have died and ourselves.

We live in a digital age. My father died fifteen years ago and even if he were alive today I highly doubt he would have a facebook page. But many people do. Facebook pages and other social media often become public memorials after the death of a loved one, and serve as a way to keep in touch between friends and share memories.

These pages can also serve as a way to stay in touch with old friends of loved ones, to show them how much children have changed and share memories as the children get older that they wouldn’t have shared when the children were young.

Another way to do this is through letters. A friend of my father’s was gracious enough to write some of his memories of my father down in a letter to my niece and nephew who were both born after my father died. My family enjoyed having the opportunity to share these with the kids and they enjoyed having their own special piece of my father to hold onto.

I’ve heard of children who were born after a death being called “subsequent children,” but I’m not sure if that is a widely used term, but for the sake of brevity it’s the term I will use. Subsequent children also deserve to have a bond fostered with their loved ones who have died. When a child is born into a family that has lost a parent, grandparent, or sibling they can often feel left out. I often listen as my sisters share stories of my grandparents who died before my birth. Though I enjoy hearing these stories I often do feel left out, by no fault of my family’s.

By giving subsequent children a chance to get to know the person who died, through sharing of memories or spending time with friends of the deceased you can foster a bond that can be very powerful for the child.

-Liz Hendrickson

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