Community Partners and Helpers
Below find suggestions for types of helpers that may exist within your community.
Some are resources for you to explore in a face to face setting, others are for you to look up online and continue your reading.
Through most schools you’ll have access to the following types of helpers:
Teachers & Staff
Preparing your child’s teacher about their loss will be important. Your child may exhibit a change in behavior and their teacher will need to know why this is happening. In addition, you can gain insight into your child’s journey through their grieving process with the insight the teacher has about times when you aren’t around. In addition to their teacher, your child may also have a special bond with someone from administration, someone who works in the school office, or a staff member who works in the cafeteria or on the custodial crew. If your child expresses the wish to discuss their loss with these people, it’s fine for you to approach them to ask if they would feel comfortable.
School Guidance Counselors
Starting with a school guidance counselor is a great option because these professionals can provide a child with a few check-ins to ensure they are making healthy progress. Second, if the child needs more regular, intensive visits, the guidance counselor can recommend a counselor in the community. Finally, sometimes guidance counselors work in conjunction with graduate student interns who may also be able to offer your child support. Especially if you cannot afford a counselor on your own, your school’s counselor can help your child begin to make sense of their emotions. The amount of time your guidance counselor has available to help your child will vary. You can contact your school’s administration to set up an appointment. Even if you can afford private counseling, alerting your school guidance counselor to the event that has taken place will help everyone. You can also discuss the option with your child ahead of time to ensure that they feel they’re a part of the process.
School Social Workers
If your child already receives social work services at school, per an IEP (Individual Education Plan), you may want to inform that social worker so they can be better prepared to support your child during this time.
Beyond your child’s immediate family, there may be other family members who can help your child gain perspective and continue healing. A favorite cousin, aunt, or uncle is someone they may feel comfortable opening up to and who can then share with you what your child is experiencing. A family member may also be able to add some distraction and fun for your child. Encourage them to do something fun together to help your child focus on something more pleasant for a while.
Religious & Spiritual Leaders
No matter what religion you practice, there are people within that community for you and your child to communicate with. Especially if your child is struggling with the idea of faith at this time, these helpers can provide comfort and explanations that you, in your own period of grief, may not be able to offer. Even if it has been a long time since you practiced your religion, they will be prepared for you. If you would like to reach out to a religious leader for the first time or to the religious leader of a new faith, this is also all right. In your journey of healing, seeking answers to new questions can be expected. Religious and spiritual leaders might provide support to a grieving child and family in the following ways:
1) Provide comfort and support around issues regarding death, dying, and grieving;
2) Aid in discussions about their particular version of faith/spirituality as it relates to life and death;
3) They often have resources of their own, such as church libraries or elders that can provide additional information and support to families; and
4) the actual community that the church (or other entity) belongs to sometimes offers outreach, meals, and other community support that can help a family in a time of grieving.
Mentors or Role Models
There are many adults or older children your child may look up to. Athletic coaches, arts directors, music tutors, librarians, neighbors, friends of the family, babysitters, after school care providers, camp counselors, and others are all types of mentors with which your child may interact regularly. If your child feels a connection with one of them and would like to discuss their loss, it’s fine to reach out to the mentor or role model and ask if they’ll talk with your child.
There are a number of safe places your child may already be involved with, such as the YMCA, after school programs, Boys & Girls Club, your local recreation center, or community action agencies. These organizations may have the mentors and friends your child needs right now, but in addition they may also be able to suggest low-cost or no-cost support.
Your local or regional United Way will have a variety of information available that can help you find counselors, assistance, and more. To find your local agency, perform a web search for “United Way” and your town or county. Your local library can assist with this search if you need help.
Your local library will be able to assist you as your journey continues. They can help by locating additional community helpers and resources, finding the next book, website, or music to use in your healing journey, and more. In addition, their interlibrary loan programs will be able to expand the materials available to you. Give them a call or stop by to learn more.
Parents often try to help their children during their period of grief but lack the training to properly discuss difficult topics like death, grief, and loss with children. We hope that this kit will provide you with the framework to honestly grieve with your children so that they heal and grow from this sad experience. However, if you feel you or your child are experiencing depression or anger that has gone on too long, we recommend you reach out to a counselor who can assist you. Counselors can be found for different age groups, genders, communities, religious beliefs, or specific causes of death.
A support group is a gathering of people who are going through the same experience that are typically led by a counselor. These groups provide an opportunity for an individual or a family to meet others who are currently going through the same experiences. Like counselors, there are support groups to be found for different age groups, genders, communities, religious beliefs, and specific causes of death. We recommend that you attend a support group and talk with the counselor about your situation before bringing your children, to be sure it is a good fit for your needs.
If your loved one required medical care before their death, those workers may be able to offer support as well. Explanations of what happened from hospital staff, nurses, doctors, caregivers, or hospice workers can all provide insight. Your child may have questions for these workers dealing with illness, death, the afterlife, or their jobs. If your loved one died due to violence, an accident, or suicide, the same can be said for emergency responders who assisted your loved one. If your loved one died under the care of any medical professionals, it’s important to let your child know that everyone, including these workers, are sad about what happened.
“Five Stages of Grief” by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/