Bereavement Programs for Kids
In the death care industry, we tend to look only at the first few weeks following the death of a loved one. From figuring out funeral plans to coordinating long-distance relatives flying in for the memorial service, you’ll find plenty of information about the details of putting a loved one to rest.
However, for many families, the real challenge of coping with death occurs in the weeks, months, and even years following. This is especially true for children, who may not have the coping skills necessary to process the death of a close friend, sibling, or parent.
Childhood bereavement programs exist to help children, adolescents, and their families to understand and move forward from death, terminal illnesses, or even long-term separations. Drawing from clinical specialists, psychologists, counselors, and even religious leaders, these programs can provide some much-needed support during a difficult time.
Kids’ Bereavement Program Options
Every bereavement program for kids will vary depending on where it is located and who is funding it. Because this is such a pivotal time in a child’s life, it’s important that you know exactly what the program entails and who will be running it. Most funeral directors can provide you information on hospital- or clinic-based programs in your area, and this is generally considered a good place to start.
At these medical-oriented programs, you may find offerings like:
- Clinical assessments and evaluations
- Psychotherapy sessions
- Education and resources
- Group therapy
- Individual counseling
- School and community resource case management
- Medication treatments
- Referrals to inpatient/outpatient care, as needed
Prices for these types of services will also vary. Some programs accept insurance, while others will require heavy out-of-pocket costs. Community programs are less likely to provide inpatient care or prescriptions for drug treatment, and may focus more on talk therapy or group sessions (in the form of a support group).
It’s also important to note that these types of programs don’t exist everywhere, and you may need to ask for a referral from your family doctor or a funeral director who knows the area.
Why Bereavement Support Matters
Children process grief differently than adults, and if their loss includes a caregiver or parent, they are likely to experience a major life upheaval. This makes it difficult to turn to traditional grief resources like books, pamphlets, or even support groups.
By providing a place for children and adolescents to receive qualified, medically-licensed support, you can help create a safe place for them to land. Parents and caregivers also commonly find that their anxiety and stress levels are lowered when they know that their children are being well taken care of (and that they have tools for issues related to acting out).
Funeral planning is just the start of your family’s journey. After the casket is lowered into the ground and you’ve said your final goodbyes, the real work begins. It’s good to know that there are programs out there to help.
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By Amy Johnson