Research suggests that the grief of a child who has suffered a loss is more complex than that of an adult. Children not only experience grief at the time of their loved one’s death, but rather they relive the grief cycle repeatedly through each developmental phase of their childhood and adolescence. The grief feels different at each stage, and it can feel very isolating.
Major studies have shown that children and teens who are not supported in the early phases of grieving can develop serious emotional and behavioral problems that may lead to the development of major psychiatric disorders, and possibly prolonged grief disorder (PGD).
This is where peer-to-peer support can help.
Peer-to-peer support programs like Friends of Aine’s Center for Grieving Children are dedicated to helping children and teens find a place of sanctuary for their grief. Seated in a no judgement zone, surrounded by others who have suffered their own significant loss, Good Grief programs can help children and teens feel more at ease and understood.
Through play, therapeutic art activities, easy conversation starters, and group camaraderie, children and teens develop coping skills they can use to get through difficult moments and days. They will learn that their grief does not make them weak, but rather loved; not alone, but rather more connected. In peer-to-peer support groups children and teens will master the skills to help them recognize their feelings, their significance, and how to move forward with them.
They will learn that it’s okay to be happy one moment, and sad the next.
Most notably, peer-to-peer support groups help children and teens find ways that their special person remains a significant part of their life and how to honor the memories that they hold on dearest to.
Grieving can be very lonely. In Group, children and teens are encouraged to be authentic about their experience, because odds are others are sharing the same experience. Knowing that others share your pain and confusion can provide a sense of warmth and solace.