Grief is a spiritual crisis. Loss of a parent leaves a child feeling helpless, lost, and alone. Kids Hurt Too Hawaii believes that a community of support is what nurtures the spirit through the 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” is not counseling, therapy, or social work. Grief is not a problem to be solved or a condition needing help. 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, unconditional acceptance, and opening ourselves to the mystery of life.
This is a prevention model and we do not pathologize grief or trauma. We focus on strengths and community bonding, which are relevant in our family oriented cultures. Parents and caregivers often need quite a bit of support in parenting a grieving or traumatized child. The family is the focus of service.
Our approach integrates the psychological and emotional importance of honoring those with whom we have bonded. This makes space for the crucial importance of remembering 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 is the key to preventing many problems. Following the loss of a parent, children and teens can often turn to coping skills that are likely to lead to chronic issues. We hear from foster parents and widowed parents that they had no idea what their children were going through.
We believe that a group model provides for the safest and most effective means for mentoring relationships with children and teens. Most of those who are in our peer groups say it is the first time they could talk about their situation or have met someone else with a similar circumstance. Caregivers are surprised when their children remind them so they won’t miss a support 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.
“Grief is a strength. In grief work, you share your strength. When you share your strength with others, you are strengthened.” -Cynthia White, M.A. (Founding Executive Director of Kids Hurt Too Hawaii)