Effects of Grief
Grief affects people of all ages very differently, but many understand it as a spiritual crisis, if nothing else. Loss of a parent leaves a child feeling helpless, lost, confused and alone. Kids Hurt Too Hawaii believes that a community of support can nurture the child through crisis of loss. Positive peer relationships guide the development of healthy and safe coping skills. Peer groups communicate belonging. Belonging is a powerful catalyst for change.
“Grief work” at Kids Hurt Too Hawaii is not considered counseling, therapy, or social work in that grief is not a problem to be solved. It is a natural and healthy part of being human. In grief work, we interact with people in similar ways that we interact with nature, showing respect, acceptance, and opening ourselves to the mysteries of life.
Ours is a prevention model that does not identify grief as bad. We focus on families’ strengths and on the importance of families bonding with their communities. Parents and caregivers often need support in parenting a grieving or traumatized child. The family is the focus of our services.
We recognize the psychological and emotional importance of honoring those with whom we have bonded, but lost. We encourage remembering the value of the parent-child bond, no matter what the cause for separation or loss. Our peer support programs assist children and teens to continue bonds with parents who are no longer physically available.
We believe early intervention for grief and trauma is key to achieving best results. Without proper interventions following the loss of a parent, children and teens can often turn to coping methods that may be questionable or unhealthy.
Studies show a peer group model provides for the safest and most effective mentoring relationships with children and teens. Most participants in our peer groups say it is the first time they could talk about their loss, or that they have met someone to whom they can relate.
Caregivers are surprised when their children remind them so they won’t miss a group. Children ask to come on their birthdays and teens have told us they save up their feelings for the group having no one else in whom to safely confide (not an altogether good thing, but one that is addressed in building networks for youth participants). Parents and caregivers have expressed the deep appreciation they have felt for the relationships they form in the program, which have helped them walk through, and honor their own grief.