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Archive for April 10th, 2012

Chögyam Trungpa

Chögyam Trungpa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Anxiety comes from not facing the current situation.”

~~Chogyam Trungpa

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So many people don’t know what to do with grieving kids.  I am always so amazed.  My parents never had a to do list to help us and we turned out okay.

But for those who need some help, take a deep breath and relax.  It really is easier than you might think.

Did you see Liz Hendrickson’s last post?  Did you see the first photo? We all have rocks in our yard… paint isn’t that expensive… so, why not?

It is a photo from a grief camp that I was able to find online… but we used to do this at our camp too.

Newspaper on the table, bright colors, glitter, river rocks, paint brushes.  That’s all it takes.  And then suggest to the kids that you want to create something for the garden, the front porch, the mantle, even the cemetery.

Let them know that you want to have something around that reminds you of the person who has died.  It’s a great activity.  You can ask them about the colors, where to put them, what they put on it, etc.

We also made luminaries.  You know, like the white bags you put out at Christmas?  We got them from the party supply store.  Markers, fun sheers/scissors, etc.. Decorate the bags.  Add sand or kitty liter and a tea light (real or electric) and put them outside.  I like the electric lights because you can use them again and again… and it doesn’t matter if you have pets or really little kids.  You can also use them inside if the weather is bad.

Liz mentioned her “daddy box” or as she termed it, her “continuing bonds box”.  🙂 We used to call them memory boxes.  You can get boxes at Michaels or other craft stores.  You can even use things like shoe boxes.  They can add momentos or photos after the box has dried.

Another great thing to do with kids, boys or girls, of any age… memory bracelets.  The kids loved them.  Some of the kids (even boys) made necklaces.  It was great.  Here is an activity you can use if you aren’t sure how to start … MEMORY IN COLORS ACTIVITY

There are all kinds of things you can do and you don’t have to be amazingly creative.  Trust me, if you did, I couldn’t have done my job.  Get a stepping stone kit at the store and make it in honor of the person who died.

Help the kids make a powerpoint.

Add photos to your iPhone.  Pick a ringtone that was a favorite song of the deceased.  It doesn’t take a lot.

Pick one night a month where you make that person’s favorite meal.

I hope you find the thing that will help you start those conversations.  I hope that these ideas give you somewhere to start.

Blessings, Jennifer

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“…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”
J.K. Rowling

As I shared in the first blog post, I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I have been since I was young and I found in them a way to express feelings about the death of my father that I had previously been unable to explain.

We have come to the end of my week with this blog and I am ever so grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my personal and professional experiences with you. I hope you have found them helpful, and I hope they can help a grieving child in your life.

The above quote is by author J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books. It is the one gift I hope to give to all the grieving children I work with, and it is a gift that I am constantly reminded of myself as a grieving child. Even though my father is gone, his love and protection are always with me, wrapping me up like a warm, safe blanket when times are hard.

Before we depart, I would like to leave you with a few resources:

The National Alliance for Grieving Children does great work for bereaved families and has a wonderful database of grief centers around the country that can be found here:

http://childrengrieve.org/find-support

I love nature, as did my father, and I am a firm believer in the healing power that summer camp can have for grieving children. Many local grief centers offer camps, but two national camps are:

Camp Erin:

http://www.moyerfoundation.org/programs/camperin.aspx

and Comfort Zone Camp:

http://www.comfortzonecamp.org/

Comfort Zone Camp also runs a wonderful social networking site for bereaved individuals called Hello Grief, I strongly encourage you to sign up and connect here:

http://www.hellogrief.org/

I want to thank you again for allowing me to share my experiences with you. I also want to thank Jen for allowing a 23 year old BSW student to take over her blog for a week, especially when I turned in passages late and read The Hunger Games instead of doing research. I am eternally grateful for all the kindness you have given me and all the lessons you have taught me.

For now,
-Liz Hendrickson

From Jennifer:  Liz is actually too sweet!  She was an incredible part of our kid’s program at hospice and our summer camps.  I was reminded in her introduction just how young Liz is.  I never thought about it when she worked with us as she was an incredible professional at an early age, volunteering at a sexual abuse shelter in addition to her hospice work — all the while being in college.

I truly believe that people like Liz, who have been there, need to be supported and fostered in our field.  Liz has a terrible loss for any child and she has used that loss to help others, develop strength, compassion, and an incredible love of life, and become an amazing adult.

Liz knows what it’s like to be severely affected by grief and live to tell about it.  Not only live but thrive.  And we don’t have enough people in our field.. social workers, therapists, RNs, doctors, etc. who have truly worked with their grief, befriended it, learned to make it a part of them and use it to create a better world.  

I am honored that Liz was able to find the time to do this for us.  She knew I had a lot to do, getting ready for my retreat at Upaya Zen Center on Dying and was ready and willing to help me out.  I cannot wait to see where she ends up when she gets that LCSW… maybe she’ll remember her old friend and hire me some day!

With deep gratitude and continued friendship Liz,

Jen

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