Student Bereavement Program
I have enjoyed many extensive experiences in teaching and empowering children throughout my life. Currently I am a volunteer in the student bereavement program from the Friends of Caroline Hospice, in Beaufort SC. I feel so blessed to participate and contribute to this wonderful program!
This program consists of a group of volunteers who work with students from K-12 on a six week basis, one class per week. The students are referred by the guidance counselors who send home permission slips to the parents/caregivers, giving us permission to work with their children. We are welcomed into the schools and are given space to work with the students. Right now I am working in two elementary schools. Last year I worked with middle school students.
The volunteers have a professional background with children. We also receive hospice and child bereavement training. We use arts and crafts, stories, games, puppets, etc...to open up healing dialogues with children who are grieving over a loved one.
Every child is unique. Every relationship is unique. We work with students who have lost siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Each death occurs in unique circumstances. Deaths are caused by illness, accidents, murders and even suicides.
Yet in all these unique circumstances, every child needs the same support. They need a loving environment where they get the opportunity to understand what grief is, and opportunities to move through grieving process. Ultimately, children are given tools of self-empowerment which can help shape their lives.
As a young child, I remember being devastated when Old Yeller died. I remember crying and feeling very upset. Unfortunately, I didn't sense there was someone who would understand what I was feeling. My parents were wonderful, caring people, but I chose not to talk to them, and I am certain they had no idea about how sad I felt. I know I would have benefited from even one class about what grief is all about.
The symptoms of a grieving child can range from outer anger to inner withdrawl. These symptoms affect everyone in the child's world, including classmates and teachers, which is why we have strong support from the local school system. I believe all school communities would benefit from this program. If you would like to know more about this wonderful community service, email me at BarbaraAnn@KidsGreifRelief.org
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