Kids' Haven celebrates National Childrens Grief Awareness Day
Thursday, November 21st
A group of New Vista's students will volunteer at Kids' Haven to make the welcome bags that we give to each new participant. Thursday is their Day of Service.
Kristin Dabney will serve on a panel called "Hope for the Holidays" held at the Brookneal Fire Station, 7pm.
To learn more about the affects of grief on teens, we share this article from the National Alliance for Grieving Children
What Grieving Teens Worry About and How You Can Help
Submitted by Pamela.Gabbay
Children's Grief Awareness Day is a national day of recognition and awareness highlighting the needs of grieving children. Children's Grief Awareness Day also recognizes grieving teens and their needs. Grieving teens are often expected to become mini adults, assuming adult roles and responsibilities. While this might not be the intention of parents or family members, it still happens. Often the teen assumes these adult roles without anyone asking them to. Coupled with the death of someone close and these added responsibilities, teens worry. What do they worry about? They worry about other family members and they worry about themselves. If their dad died, they worry about their mom. Because they're worried about their mom, they often won't talk about their dad in front of their mom. They might not talk about their own pain and heartbreak in front of family members because they are worried about causing their family members more grief on top of the grief that they're already feeling.
Teens worry that someone else in their life might die. This is a natural, normal reaction to the death of someone close. If one family member or friend can die, what's to stop other people that the teen loves from dying? Teens also worry that something might happen to them. With the first death, the illusion that the world is a safe, predictable place has been shattered. So has the illusion that being a "good person" will keep you and your family out of harm's way.
What else do grieving teens worry about? They worry about being "different" at school. Many times they don't want anyone to know that someone close to them has died because they don't want to stand out. I remember a teen who attended the Mourning Star Center many years ago. He requested that his mom not tell the school counselors at his new school about his dad's death. He wanted to have a fresh start without people thinking of him as "the kid whose dad dropped dead of a heart attack". For this teen, he felt that the best chance he had for a new start without the label was to simply not tell anyone.
Grieving teens worry about their future. Some teens must change their future plans because the economic stability of the family has changed and their family no longer has the funds to send them to college. Many teens have future plans that the person who died was intimately involved with. Once this person has died, everything about those future plans change. Also, many times the person who died was their biggest fan and supporter. The death of this person causes the very foundation of the teen's beliefs to be questioned.
Teens also wonder and worry whether or not the person that died is proud of them. Are they doing anything that might disappoint the person that died? Are they making good choices? What about poor choices the teen made before the death? The person who has always been there to guide the teen is no longer there.
How can adults help grieving teens with their concerns and worries? One way is to consider bringing up the topic of worries. It's ok to ask teens what is on their mind and whether anything is bothering them. Take the time to discuss these worries. Some may be unfounded, some may not be. For example, there is no way to guarantee them that no one else in their life will die, but we can hope that the people we love are taking good care of themselves and being careful when driving, etc. It's also important that adults assure teens that they are not responsible for filling the missing person's shoes or for taking over their role.
Adults can also help by telling teens that even though there's no way to take away all of the pain and suffering of their family members, often talking about the loss with family members is helpful. You can help by giving the teen options about ways to discuss the loss with their family or someone else that they are close to. It's not unusual for all of the members of the family to be suffering in silence and, therefore, hesitant to bring up the loss for fear that they will upset the rest of the family. Bringing a family together to discuss these painful feelings is one way to help. Perhaps it has not occurred to some teens that their family members might be feeling the way that they're feeling. Teens need to know that they don't have to grieve in isolation. Teens also need to know that there's hope for the future, their future.
Pamela Gabbay, MA, FT
Director, Community Outreach and Mourning Star Centers
Camp Director, Camp Erin Children's Bereavement Camp
Visiting Nurse Association, CaliforniaP
for more photos click on slide show in the right column
Kids' Haven attends the local Lynchburg's Counselors Association Night of Networking
Our annual Pumpkin Sale was held during the Junior League's Ducky Derby at Peaksview Park.
It was great fun!
Four of our Matthew volunteers who helped direct traffic at our Middle School Dance! Many thanks.