Children’s Grief Awareness Day

Kayla PearenPsychotherapy

Children’s Grief Awareness Day has been recognized on November 17th since 2008, created by Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children.

This day is acknowledged in hopes of spreading the following messages about children and teens:

They DO grieve. The way in which they do this may look different from that of adults, but this does not mean that they do not experience grief at all. Sadly, 1 in 20 youth will experience the death of a parent before they graduate high school – and this statistic does not include the death of other family members or close friends.

They often carry grief with them everywhere they go, including school, sports, work, home, play dates, etc. Having trustworthy adults in each of these environments is crucial in order to feel supported. Common reactions to grief for kids can include acting out, forgetfulness, clinging to caregivers or teachers, increased sensitivity, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, confusion or increased questions about death and fear of other loved ones dying. For teens, this list can also include increased risk taking, increased agitation or anger, confusion about self-identity and a lack of hope.

Warmth, safety, and support are needed. Open, safe, warm conversations about death and grief are needed for children and teens to feel supported, rather than alone or isolated. Parents, caregivers, teachers and other significant adults in a young person’s life may not always have the capacity or skills to offer this. This can be especially true when adults in the family are grieving too, meaning their capacity to emotionally support others may be lowered or diminished. Having other caring adults step in to provide additional support can make a world of a difference for grieving families.

Anyone can help. Helping spread awareness can make a huge impact. Consider posting a blue butterfly on your social media accounts (using #childgriefday) on November 17th , or wear blue to show your support. Volunteering for programs that support children’s grief can be another impactful way to get involved. Highmark Caring Place is also offering a FREE day of online activities and presentations for the public, with no registration required:
https://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org/cgad2/participate/index.shtml

Counselling is for children and teens too. There is often a misconception that because kids don’t grieve in the same way as adults, they don’t need grief support from a counsellor. Offering an initial counselling appointment to a young person opens the door for them to choose if they would like to see a grief counsellor or not. This also sends them the message that support is available, and that it is okay to ask others for help.

If you or a young person in your life is in need of grief support, give us a call at 403-454-7600 to chat with a therapist today.

Reference:
Caring Foundation. (2022). What is children’s grief awareness day? Retrieved from
https://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org/cgad2/about/index.shtml