When the death of a loved one occurs in a child's life, he or she can become a "neglected mourner." Many adults fixate on the behaviors they see in the child after the loss, not recognizing the impact of grief and the child's mental health needs. Healthy coping skills are not something that comes naturally for any one, and children are no exception.
The children's bereavement program at Hospice and Homecare of Reno County is designed specifically for school aged children (Kindergarten through 17 years old) and focuses specifically on helping these children understand their feelings, process their grief, recognize that they are not alone in this process and teach coping skills to use as they integrate the loss of their loved one into their life. We meet the children's needs in many different ways.
Children in our patient's families receive individual support for anticipatory grief through a variety of hands on activities that facilitate conversations. They are able to develop a new understanding of what is happening inside of them as they are preparing to say good-bye to a loved one.
We are working with several schools in our service area providing children's grief support groups in collaboration with Kidzcope of Wichita. These groups are held during the school day for children identified by school counselors who could benefit by engaging with peers who have also experienced a loss. We meet for 30-45 minutes once a week for eight weeks to lead these children through hands on activities and facilitated conversations to help identify and process their grief.
In 2015, Hospice and Homecare of Reno County offered the first annual "Tinsel and Tears" for families in the community. During this event, families come together and learn coping skills for the holiday season. They get to spend time on grief work along with fun holiday activities.
Our children’s bereavement program is free to anyone in our service area. None of our costs, such as supplies, staffing of program, training, or marketing are reimbursable through insurance. Hospice and HomeCare is proud of the program we have established to help children explore grief and begin healing in a caring, supportive environment.