It’s a sad fact: the death of someone close to us is one of the hardest things that we will ever have to cope with in our lifetime.* At any age, making sense of it all and coming to terms with that loss can be confusing and traumatic, but for a child it can be even harder. Processing and communicating the dizzying array of new and complex emotions that a bereavement brings can be really difficult to deal with, especially if the adults around them are visibly upset; coping with their own trauma.
At ellenor we care for and support the whole family – including young relatives of patients. Play therapy, music therapy and counselling are just some of the services we provide to help youngsters explore and understand their grief. In acknowledgement of how vital these sessions are to families, we recently held our first bereavement day for children, which was open to both the children of our adult patients and siblings of younger patients previously supported under our Children’s Hospice Care.
Eight children who had experienced the death of a close family member were able to meet and make friends with others also coping with loss, allowing them to talk openly about their feelings in a safe environment. The day was themed around memories and so the children, aged between five and nine, were asked to bring with them either a treasured photograph or memento of the person they were remembering.
The children participated in musical activities to reflect on their early memories, such as their first day at school, and used arts and crafts to create pictures and objects which they could then use in the future to bring back lasting memories. These activities gave each child a creative outlet and an opportunity to talk about memories of their loved one. The day was significant in helping the children understand that it is normal to experience many different feelings when coping with grief.
We are pleased that the day received positive feedback from both the children and their parents and are hoping to run them on a more regular basis. Patients and families are the motivation and focus for all we do here at ellenor, but it is only with the generous support of our local community that we can continue providing the best quality, personalised care and expertise to those who need us - and grow to reach the rest.
Jola Martis – Play Therapist - ellenor