“But aren’t you a hospice for adults?”. Here in the Patient and Family Support team, this is a phrase we hear all the time. But despite people’s surprise, providing support to children is central to the care we offer.

Most people are unaware that Royal Trinity Hospice offers counselling and art therapy to children. Though Trinity is in fact a hospice for adults we pride ourselves in our holistic care, and it’s that very care that allows us to offer invaluable services to our patients’ families and friends, and that is inclusive of the children present in that family unit. We provide this support both before and after a bereavement.

November 16th to November 22nd 2017 marks Children’s Grief Awareness Week and it is a chance for us to talk about and raise awareness around the issues that affect bereaved children and young people in the UK.  According to the charity Winston’s Wish, every day more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent in the UK and many more are bereaved of a grandparent. Children grieve in different ways and express their grief differently from adults.

Many adults struggle with dealing with death and because of this many assume that children cannot cope with it either.  Some adults may try to protect children by leaving them out of rituals or not talking to them about death.  When this happens, children may feel anxious, confused, scared and alone. Often children are left to try and manage some difficult feelings on their own at a time when they most need the help and guidance of those around them. 

We find it is so important for parents to speak openly and honestly with their children about death and feelings.  The Patient and Family Support team at Trinity work with parents in helping them support their children in understanding death and coping with grief.   

For Children's Grief Awareness week, we thought we would share 5 books which we often recommend to parents and children alike to help talk about death, understand loss, and express grief. 

 

  1. Ida, Always by Karen Lewis (Ages 4-10)

     

A story of how friendship can help through illness, difficult times and loss as told by 2 polar bears in the zoo.

  1. Cry, Heart, but never break by Glen Ringtved (ages 4-8) 

    

The author wrote this following his personal struggle of having to explain death to his own children.  This book explains death in a way that children can understand through story and illustrations. 

  1. Sad Isn’t Bad by Michaelene Mundy (ages 4-8)

     

Written by a school counsellor, this book offers children a comforting, realistic look at loss helping them to grieve in a healthy way.

  1. Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical Ideas by Alan D. Wolfelt, PH.D. (ages 13 and up)

    

Written for teenagers, this book helps provide ideas and action-oriented tips that teach the basic principles of grief.  These ideas and activities are aimed at reducing the confusion and anxiety some teens may experience.  It aims to helps young people understand that their grief is natural.

  1. A Child Remembers.    Written by Enid Samuel-Traisman (Ages 8-12)

    

This journal is to help children grieve. The pages include writing about memories of their loved one, a goodbye letter, and a story “About Us.” There are also pages to draw out feelings and meaning of the loss.