Today, November 19th, is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day. I have to admit that in years past I was not aware of this day. I was not aware that 1 in 20 children will lose a parent before they even graduate from high school. I was not aware of the needs of grieving children and how they can feel invisible and forgotten. I was not aware of all of the ways we as adults misunderstand children’s grief. I am very aware now and it has changed so much for me.
1 in 20 children will lose a parent before they even graduate from high school.
Last weekend I was able to participate in the first Crossroads Kids camp. It was a three-day, two-night camp for children that have experienced the loss of a close loved one. The mission of Crossroads Kids is to create a community that honors the validity of child and family grief by facilitating the healing process. That is just what is needed: a community. Children and families need a community that understands the ways children grieve, offers the support they need and provides freedom to express their sadness.
The camp is over but this community will continue on. I am so honored to work for Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation and we are striving to create and sustain these communities. C.S. Lewis once said, “No one told me that grief felt so like fear.” The weekend spent with these children taught me about honesty in grieving and how shared grief is a little more tolerable and a little less scary. I was reminded that grief extends past Kubler-Ross’ five stages and can be an all-consuming darkness that requires the love and patience of a community to find the light again.
On this day, and every day, may we take a moment and grieve for those we have lost. Let us not forget the children, their fear, sadness, playfulness, pain and resiliency. We have so much to learn from each other as long as we are not afraid to go into the darkness.