Children Healing After Trauma

by Peggy Sweeney

Peggy Sweeney

When you hear the word child, what do you image? The smiling face of a little boy or girl or your growing teenager? Do you visualize a young ballerina or soccer player? Maybe it is a young adult complaining of acne, struggling with peer pressure, or begging for the car. I’m sure your mental picture will be one of a happy, smiling child.

Unfortunately, for many children in today’s world, traumatic events have occurred in their young lives that prevent them from fulfilling their most important task—being a kid and enjoying the rewards of those carefree days. They have been unwillingly forced to grow up faster than their peers without benefit of directives, manuals, or mentors. They may have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, classmate, or pet. Their parents may have dragged them through a bitter divorce and made them choose sides. They may be innocent victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, abandonment, or an alcohol- or drug-dependent parent(s). Their so-called friends may bully or shun them or call them names that hurt. Classmates and teachers may judge them as undesirable companions or students because their dad or mom has been arrested or is serving time in prison. What should be a happy, fun-filled time of their life is instead a day-to-day struggle to appear happy and normal. Their smiles and laughter have been replaced with sadness and tears. They seek comfort yet find no one who will ease their pain or help them deal with their feelings of anger, guilt, and loneliness.

Adults are seldom prepared to cope with their own traumas or grief much less those of a child they love. As a result, these children become the forgotten victims. We assume kids recover from the death of a loved one quite readily. Do not be fooled. This is not usually the case. Continue reading

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Grieving Children: How Do We Help Them

by Liz Murray
Peterson Hospice

Liz Murray

How often, as adults, have we found ourselves grieving a loss—any loss—and never thought that our children might also be grieving? When grief hits us we are often so overwhelmed and unable to think clearly that we cannot begin to think of what our children are feeling. Haven’t we, as a society, thought that we should shield our children from any pain? The sign of a good parent is one that takes care of their children so they live a happy life and grow up to be happy, well adjusted adults. What do “we” do to prepare our children to cope with the many losses they will experience in life: death, divorce, moves, natural disasters, leaving home, pet loss, and so many others that will “slap them up the side of the head?”

Loss is a natural part of our life and it is our job to prepare our children to cope with it, process it, and learn to grow from it. We should not consider shielding our children from all of the grief that will occur in life; instead, teach them to experience it with your loving support so they will learn how to cope when they are on their own. Continue reading

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Arts Do Reach the Heart

by Lorraine LeMon

Just like no two people are alike …no two people express grief the same ways. However, the one thing that they all share is the fact that “grieving is a process” and we all process it differently.

Lorraine LeMon

Arts as a Tool… process over project
How does it work? Imagery and the arts — the first forms of healing — are being retrieved today by the creative arts therapies. On the rise now are many approaches to the use of Art Therapy which is being used to identify and help heal pain and illness in the body. One of the most significant things that I have found with the Arts is that they truly have a way of reaching the heart and helping the individual slowly and safely uncover and discover things within.

Using the Arts to Reach the Hearts
For the past eight years, we at Art2Heart have stood firm on the fact that the Fine and Performing Arts can be a great tool in helping young people acquire self esteem, self worth. During those eight years, we have watched that very thing take place in the lives of many children in our program. One of the ways this happens is that the arts have an uncanny but unique way of helping young people look deep inside their hearts and balance out the good with the bad. Once kids see that they do have gifts and talents, this realization gives them strength to deal with the negative circumstances in life. Studies have shown that trauma caused by injury, abuse, or grief can sometimes leave the person in a sort of altered state, seemingly living normal lives while storing up the painful memories keeping them tucked away. But the Arts can slowly help them discover a safe way to let these memories out and begin a journey to process through them. Continue reading

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A Safe Place: Retreat for Bereaved Parents ~ November 11-13, 2011

A day passes. A thousand days pass, and there is no end to the journey of grief. Often there is silence. Mentioning your loss makes others uncomfortable. More silence comes with the passing of years when people forget or did not know your family was once different.

A Safe Place is a retreat for bereaved parents at Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly where individuals will find others willing to hear them tell their stories. Led by other bereaved parents and supported by professional counselors, the retreat will involve time spent in listening groups and/or individual conversations. The main goal is to provide a safe, spiritual environment where participants feel free to talk about their bereavement, share what has helped them cope, and discuss continuing needs. Scholarship assistance is available to make this experience possible for those with financial needs.

The retreat is the second weekend of November, the 11-13, 2011.  For more information go to MO-RANCH or call Sue Endsley at 830-238-4455 ext.226 or email


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Bereaved Children Books

Explaining Death to Children
Tell Me, Papa by Joy & Marv Johnson ages 3-8 (explaining death & funerals)
Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by B. Mellonie & R. Ingpen age 3-8
I Know I Made It Happen by Lynn Blackburn (helping children understand it was not their fault)
Children Grieve, Too by Joy and Marv Johnson with Jackie Bell & Jan Roberts
Lean on Me Gently by Doug Manning
Helping Children Cope with Grief by Alan Wolfelt
Grief Comes to Class – An Educator’s Guide by Majel Gliko-Braden
Sibling Grief by Marcia Scherago (a parent’s guide for all age groups)
Helping Children Grieve – When Someone They Love Dies by Theresa Huntley

~~Books for Children and Adolescents~~

Young Children and Adolescents
Thank You for Coming to Say Goodbye by Roberts & Johnson age 6-12 (death & funerals)
Timothy Duck by Lynn Blackburn  age 6-10 (death of a friend)
The Snowman by Robin Vogel  ages 5-10 (death of a dad)
A Quilt for Elizabeth by Benette Tiffault ages 8-11 (dad’s death)
Learning to Say Goodbye: When a Parent Dies by Edna LeShan ages 8+
Secret Places: The Story of a Child’s Adventure with Grief  by James Campbell age 7-10 (father’s death)
I Heard Your Mommy Died by Mark Scrivani  ages 3-7
I Heard Your Daddy Died by Mark Scrivani ages 3-7
The Empty Place by Roberta Tremes  ages 5-10 (death of a sibling)
No New Baby by Centering Corporation  (for young children whose mommy miscarries)
Am I Still a Sister? by Allie Sims ages 6+
It’s OK: Survival Kit for Bereaved Brothers and Sisters by Thomas Crouthamel, Sr.
Grandpa’s Berries by Julie Dickerson  ages 7-10
Green Mittens for Grandma by Bernice Hanks ages 5-9
A Child Remembers by  ages 8-12 (journal for children)

Teen Grief
How It Feels When a Parent Dies by Jill Krementz  (age 6-18)
Facing Change by Donna O’Toole
When a Friend Dies by Marilyn Gootman
Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers by Earl Grollman
Flowers for the Ones You’ve Known by Centering Corporation (letters from grieving teens)
When Death Walks In by Mark Scrivani
The Last Teenage Suicide by Norman Geller (suicide death of a friend)
Fire in My Heart, Ice in My Veins by Enid Traisman (journal for teens)
In My World by Linda Lazar (journal for teens who are facing a life-threatening illness)
Hurting Yourself: For Teens Who Have Attempted Suicide by Joy Johnson
A Teenager’s Book About Suicide by Earl Grollman

Teen Moms
This Time It’s Me by Janet Sieff (learning you’re pregnant)

North America’s oldest resource for books on grief

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