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Good Grief

Helping children grieve


Good Grief
Helping children grieve
Objectives
• Recognize how children grieve over the
death of a loved one.
• Learn how to use art to help children
identify and express their feelings of grief.
• Learn specific examples of the arts for
healing…
– Quilt-making –Writing
– Drawing –Painting –Collage
Good Grief Wk. 1
• Why the name “Good Grief?”
Good Grief Wk.1
• Introductions & Icebreakers
– Confidentiality explained
– Group rules discussed
Grief defined
• Grief is….different for everyone, no right or wrong way to grieve.

• Grief is not a mountain to be climbed,


• With the strong reaching the summit long before the weak,

• Grief is not an athletic event,


• With the stop watches timing our progress,

• Grief is a walk through loss and pain,


• With no competition and no time trials,

• Grief is like peeling an onion in your own unique way,


• Ahead of you lies more peeling and more walking through your pain,
• Learning to adjust to life as it is now,
Remembrance quilts
– Each child tells who they lost, their age and
name.
– Martha begins the quilt making project.
– Photos are brought in and layed-out.
– Children have a safe, non-verbal activity.
• Photos allow kids to begin to confront powerful grief
feelings in the group setting, as a show and tell, an
idea they are familiar with.
• Our stories are shared informally, as they work on
designing their quilts.
Good Grief Wk.1- 2
• We begin by sharing our stories aloud,
honoring our loved ones, reminiscing
– Each child briefly tells
who died in their family.
– Quilt making
Good Grief Wk.3

• Mister Rogers “Talking about the unmentionable makes it


manageable.”

• Our goal is to begin to unpack the heavy load of grief that


each child carries, making the road ahead a little easier.
• The first step is going into detail about what happened to
them, their story is told.
• Hellen Keller “The world is full tremendous sorrow, but is also full of the
overcoming of it.
Good Grief Wk.3
• Children often are not asked…
• Gather them into a circle and talk.
• The first step is going into detail about
what happened to them.
• Their story is told:
– Who, when, why, how, where.
– We listen to each other, the room is quiet…
Good Grief Wk. 3
Give sorrow words, the grief
that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught
heart,
And bids it break
Shakespeare
Good Grief Wk.3
• Children need to be given a chance to grieve.
Parents often think it is better to shelter their
children from discussing their feelings
associated with grief and loss.

• However, the unspoken fears of a child and


thoughts are more damaging if left unsaid.

• Magical thinking explained.


Specific Projects to try…
• Expressive Art Projects to help children tell their
story:
– Booking making with markers and paper
– Creating a story about an animal who lost somebody..”Once
Upon a Time”
– Group Poem about the loss, pass around
– Doodling while talking in a circle on large sheets of paper
Drawing yourself before the death and after.
Draw yourself as a tree who has suffered a loss
Paper Mache Heart Project
What’s Inside Your Heart
What’s Inside Your Heart
Wk. 4 Explore Grief emotions
• Anger
• Fear
• Sadness
• Worries about other parents dying
• Feeling lonely
• Feeling different than others
• Guilt
• Feeling responsible for the death
• Magical thinking investigated and cognitive distortions
corrected
I am a volcano
“I feel like I am a bomb about to explode. “I am splitting
and exploding.”
Good Grief Wk. 5
• Example of an intervention used on Wk. 5
• Focus: How to handle, identify and express anger in grief
• Directive: Show your angry feelings as a monster (w/
woods, nails and broken tile pieces) which expresses
your anger about the loss of parent.

• The children all interpreted the directive in a way that


they needed to express their grief and pain. These are
the stories of the children.
Good Grief Wk. 5
– When I asked Lauren what her sculpture would say if
it had a voice, she said “I love you, don’t be afraid,
you are never alone.”
• Then Lauren said “…and tell someone how you
feel.”
Angry Monsters Sculpture
• “My monster is not as angry as it used to be. It used to
be out of control with anger. Now, it feels a little better
each day. I still miss daddy but I know that I’m not the
only kid who’s daddy died. I don’t feel so different and
alone. I put a matchbox car on my monster because my
daddy really loved them. I put these nails for hair
because he didn’t have much hair because of his
cancer.” “ I used to ask God why me, why did I have to
loose my daddy when I’m so young. But now I know I
will be O.K.”
A group poem by 3-18 years olds…
• “Love’s everlasting
• Sorrow is a deep well,
• But, life goes on
• The memory of your loved one is deep like a well,
• And everlasting like the universe (the stars in the sky).
• There is a reason for everything,
• You are here,
• I am with you,
• Look around there is sun, water’s sweet music
• Let your grief float on the water,
• The tide will carry your precious memories back to you
• Let the tide carry away your grief,
• The tide will carry tiny bits of precious memories back to you.”


Week 6

• By week 6, they are comfortable and don’t want to leave the


group.
• Quilt ceremony, first 15-20 minutes, family and friends are invited.
• We end the group with a candle, some give a poem or song to the
group.
• I ask them “what are you leaving with?”
• Share memories and funny stories.
• We discuss ways to handle grief in the future and introduce Good
Grief and beyond
• Share their Quilts and Comfort Card quilt.
How Do We Parents Help?
How Do We Parents Help?
Be honest with the child and give simple, clear explanations consistent with the child's level of understanding.
• Be careful not to overload them with too many facts.
• Younger children are more affected by disruptions in their environment than by the loss itself.
• Avoid confusing explanations of death, such as, "gone away," or "gone to sleep." It might be better to say, "his body stopped working." Avoid making
God responsible for the death. Instead say, "God didn't take your sister, but God welcomed her." Or, "God is sad that we're sad. But now that your sister

has died, she is with God." Don't assume that if the child isn't talking about the loss it hasn't affected them. Be consistent and maintain the usual routines
as much as possible. Encourage the child to express their feelings and to ask questions. Children may act out their grief in their fantasy play and artwork.
If children have seen adults cry in the past they will be less concerned about tears now. Show affection and let them know that they are loved and will be
taken care of. Each child reacts differently to loss. Behaviors that you may observe include: withdrawal, acting out, disturbances in sleeping and eating,
poor concentration, being overly clingy, regression to earlier stages of development, taking on attributes of the deceased. Sharing your grief with a chil
• Avoid confusing explanations of death, such as, "gone away," or
"gone to sleep." It might be better to say, "his body stopped
working." Don't assume that if the child isn't talking about the loss it
hasn't affected them.
• Be consistent and maintain the usual routines. Encourage the child to
express their feelings and to ask questions. Children may act out
their grief in their fantasy play and artwork. If children have seen
adults cry in the past they will be less concerned about tears now.
Show affection and let them know that they are loved and will be
taken care of. Each child reacts differently to loss. Behaviors that you
may observe include: withdrawal, acting out, disturbances in sleeping
and eating, poor concentration, being overly clingy, regression to
earlier stages of development, taking on attributes of the deceased.
Sharing your grief with a chil
How to help…
• Encourage the child to express their feelings and to ask questions.
• Children may act out their grief in their fantasy play and artwork.
• If children have seen adults cry in the past they will be less concerned
about tears now.
• Show affection and let them know that they are loved and will be taken
care of. Each child reacts differently to loss. Behaviors that you may
observe include: withdrawal, acting out, disturbances in sleeping and
eating, poor concentration, being overly clingy, regression to earlier
stages of development, taking on attributes of the deceased.
• Show affection and let them know that they are loved and someone will
always be there for them.
What is normal grief in children?
• Show affection and let them know that
they are loved and someone will always be
there for them.
Each child reacts differently to loss.
Behaviors that you may observe include:
withdrawal, acting out, disturbances in
sleeping and eating, poor concentration,
being overly clingy, regression to earlier
stages of development, taking on
attributes of the deceased.
Connecting with your child
• While laughing with your child you’ll take a
peek at heaven (play, build forts, rent
funny movies, play games, cuddle, make
jello, read, play wii).
• Ages and stages…