November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month
One in 11 children in Michigan will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18. That number doubles by the age of 25 and doesn’t include other relatives, friends, teachers or coaches.
Working through the grieving process toward healing and hope is an emotional and difficult journey at any age. It can be an especially arduous and challenging experience for children, who may not have the capabilities to adequately express themselves or process feelings in a positive way on their own.
Each November during Children’s Grief Awareness Month, events and activities take place across the United States to serve as a reminder that no child should have to walk that path alone. The month is highlighted this year with Children’s Grief Awareness Day on Nov. 16. The National Alliance for Grieving Children observes Children’s Grief Awareness Month by advancing its mission to act as a catalyst for a countrywide movement to educate, advocate and support grieving children, teens and their families.
In the Greater Lansing region, Ele’s Place – Capital Region has been that resource for local residents for more than three decades.
Ele’s Place provides peer-to-peer grief support groups for children and teens ages 3-18 and young adults 18-26 years old. Groups meet weekly Monday through Thursday evenings and are facilitated by trained volunteers who provide a supportive, welcoming environment with age-appropriate discussions and activities including art, writing, music, storytelling and play to promote expression of feelings and develop coping skills. The nonprofit also partners with local middle and high schools to provide support groups on-site at local schools.
When a child experiences the death of a parent, sibling or someone important to them, the impact is emotionally devastating and has a profound effect on their life. Often, grieving children feel isolated and keep their feelings to themselves, not wanting to burden their parents or share with friends who do not understand what it’s like. As a result, the child’s health, schoolwork and social adjustment often suffer as they attempt to cope with the death.
Grief support to children, teens and young adults in the community is available through Ele’s Place at no cost to individuals or families. Ele’s Place works collaboratively with schools, funeral homes, hospices, health care providers, mental health therapists, family service agencies and faith-based organizations to educate about children’s grief issues, inform of our grief support services and encourage referrals of bereaved families.
An additional measure of support for the cause is to donate or volunteer at Ele’s Place. Information about monetary donations, volunteer opportunities and wish lists for the four Ele’s Place branches can be found at elesplace.org.