Helping Kids Grieve - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Helping Kids Grieve

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Losing a loved in is difficult for everyone and especially when it comes to a child.  This is one of the reasons Hospice of Wichita Falls offers free counseling for anyone that has suffered a loss.

Many of us turn to our family and close friends to help cope with the loss.  However Sheryl Mahon, a Councilor at Hospice of Wichita Falls, said children don’t always understand what death is.

“It really depends on their developmental level, their cognitive level,” Mahon said.

This is something she takes into consideration when coming up with an appropriate plan of action with the child.  Mahon also said they know that for some people it is hard to seek out help.

She explained, “Seeing Councilors for adults, as well as kids, is a new experience and people are afraid of what they don’t know.”

One of the most important things you can do for a child is to make sure they are in a safe environment where they can speak freely and ask any question.  This is one of the tools they tell the parent or guardian.  Mahon said it is very important to make sure your child is comfortable because they will talk about the tragedy outside of the counseling room.

“If you’re just there for that child, you let the child know you love them, you support them, and that it’s okay to talk about the death, then that to me is the bottom line,” she said.

She also suggests to parents and guardians to not push their child to talk about it.  She said to just let the child know that you will be there for them when they are ready.

“Let them be the leaders and you just be there to support them and to guide them,” Mahon said.

She also suggests keeping their daily routines the same.  This will help them not get wrapped up in the emotions they are feeling, which could lead to depression.  She explained routines are very important to a child experiencing a loss.

Hospice of Wichita Falls offers individual counseling and support groups for a child who has experienced the loss of a family member or friend.  This includes “Camp Grin Again” and “Building Bridges.”  They also have pamphlets for parents who are helping their child go through the difficult time.   It gives the parent or guardian tips on how to answer questions the child might have.

Mahon said every child is different, so they treat each child different.  Some might be open to talking, while others are very guarded.  It also depends on what age they are and how much they already understand. 

“We do offer thins like play activities, art activities, and that helps them express their feelings and what they are going through,” Mahon said.

However before sessions begin, Mahon said they always meet with the caregiver.  She said she explains to them what they should expect.  This can be with or without the child. 

She said, “It’s just whatever you think is best for your child.”

If you or someone you know would like counseling, feel free to call Hospice of Wichita Falls at (940) 691-0982.  You can also visit the website for more information and tips.

Alexandra McClung, Newschannel 6