Teens and children: The forgotten mourners
About the author
Tina Bruess is the co-director of Camp Sunrise and Hospice Service Coordinator at Barton Health. For questions and Camp Sunrise registration information, call 530-543-5592 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the wake of losing a loved one, our lives are turned upside down.
The grief process is amplified with youth, who may not have coping skills to help them process death. Teens and children are often the forgotten mourners, and because they grieve very differently than adults, their needs are often overlooked.
To help guide this process and support the community, the Barton Foundation and Barton Hospice host Camp Sunrise, a free children’s bereavement camp. This accepting and supportive environment allows children freely express their feelings about the loss of a loved one.
Some simple concepts at Camp Sunrise can be applied in everyday life to help children and teenagers as they make their way in the grieving process:
Build a support network, from peers to professional help
Let children and teens dealing with the death of a loved one know they are not alone. Help them connect with others and share their experiences at support groups or in the community. Encourage them to identify non-harmful ways to release their feelings in a safe environment.
Provide young mourners with a creative outlet such as a journal or art supplies to paint and draw. Art is a fantastic way to express feelings while remembering their loved one through a creative project, while fostering empowerment.
Encourage expression and acceptance
Listen, share and be honest with children who are in grief. Be honest and take time to answer their questions – even the hard ones. Encourage discussion by talking about and remembering the person who died. Be patient with this process as everyone’s grief journey is uniquely their own.
With loving support, young ones can share their experience with acceptance as they move through the healing process.
Camp Sunrise, Aug. 9-11, at Camp Galilee in Glenbrook, Nevada, is now accepting registration for local youth ages 7-14.
Registration forms are available online at bartonhealth.org/events or can be picked up at the Barton Hospice office located at 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite. 500 in South Lake Tahoe.
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