When Sarah Abramovitz, Coordinator at the David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program at Penn Homecare and Hospice ran into Chris Cavalieri, Executive Director of Family Lives On Foundation at the NAGC Symposium On Children’s Grief this summer, they had a lot to talk about.
Sarah, who is an Art Therapist, was busy counseling bereaved children and gearing up for Camp Erin where she is the Clinical Director. Chris was on a whirlwind outreach tour culminating in the national expansion of Family Lives On’s Tradition Program that enabled many bereaved children from 28 of the 50 United States to enroll.
After discussing many topics in depth, Sarah and Chris realized that they had a common goal. They both ached to increase the depth of the average citizen’s awareness around Children’s Grief. A grand plan was hatched. Together, for Children’s Grief Awareness Day, 2014, Family Lives On and David Bradly Children’s Bereavement Program would collaborate.
This week, Chris had children from Montgomery School in Chester Springs, PA make handprints in blue paint on white paper. Jodi who is on staff at FLO, diligently cut out those hands and many more from blue construction paper. Sarah arranged the hands artistically and she and Chris adhered them to foam board with glue. They added pipe cleaners and plastic zip ties to create a gorgeous, blue butterfly with moving wings, signifying Children’s Grief Day.
Digital graphics were created and will be uploaded and cross promoted on social media platforms for both organizations. And the staff wore blue in honor of CGAD.
There are more than two million children and teens grieving the death of their mother or father, and 1 in 20 children experience the death of a parent before the age of 16.
“Grieving involves many different emotions, actions, and expressions, all of which help the person come to terms with the loss of a loved one. But keep in mind, grief doesn’t look the same for everyone. Every loss is different. It’s important to consider that adult grief is different than child grief. Adults tend to deal with grief head on. Society expects them to do that. A child doesn’t have the capacity to do that.”
“For children”, says Chris Cavalieri, “grief can be re-activated over and over as a child progresses through different developmental stages of growth. This is very normal and can actually be a chance for the child to talk about the parent’s life.”
Family Lives On’s Tradition Program is a free, direct service for such children that supports their bereavement process. The program takes place within the child’s daily family life, helping children continue the traditions they celebrated with their deceased parent.
When it comes to loss of life, children have special needs – they do not have the same avenues or outlets as adults to express their grief, or the experience to understand all they are feeling. Wissahickon Hospice’s David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program provides emotional support for young survivors of hospice patients and guides them through the bereavement process in a safe, sensitive environment that caters directly to their needs.
The David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program offers:
Individual Grief Counseling: in the home, provided by a certified social worker trained to work with children – for children in our patients’ families
Phone consultations: open to any child in the community
Workshops: providing discussion, art, play and other activities
Sarah is also the Clinical Director at Camp Erin-Philadelphia which is a weekend overnight camp for children who have experienced the death of a significant person in their life, such as a parent, sibling, other family member or friend. The camp combines traditional, fun, high-energy camp activities with grief education and support.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children — and of the benefits they obtain through the support of others. It is an opportunity to make sure that grieving children receive the support they need.
Created in 2008 by the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, and since recognized by organizations around the world, Children’s Grief Awareness Day is observed every year on the third Thursday in November (the Thursday before the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving). This time of year is a particularly appropriate time to support grieving children because the holiday season is often an especially difficult time after a death.
Family Lives On Foundation, The David Bradley Center at Penn Hospice and Children’s Grief Awareness Day are partners in bringing attention to the fact that support can make all the difference in the life of a grieving child. This day provides an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of the painful impact that the death of a loved one has in the life of a child, and an opportunity to make sure that these children receive the support they need.
For more pictures of the creative endeavors of the day check the facebook page on Thursday, November 20th, Children’s Grief Day.
Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. Our Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication, and celebration. To enroll in the program as a family in need, donate, volunteer or for more information visit the Family Lives On Foundation website or Facebook Page or follow us @familyliveson Twitter Account or @familyliveson Instagram. To check out our 30-second PSA click here: The Family Lives On PB & J PSA.