1. When a Child Dies

 

HOW PARENTAL GRIEF IS UNIQUE FROM OTHER LOSSES:
The loss of a child through death is unlike any other loss. Studies have shown that in comparison with other types of bereavement the grief of parents is particularly severe, complicated, and long lasting. Sanders (1980) and Clayton, Desmarais, and Winokur (1986) found bereaved parents showed more intense symptoms than did individuals bereaved by other kinds of loss. Owen, Fulton and Markusen (1982-1983) found the death of a child to be more debilitating than the death of a spouse or parent.
 
The symptoms of grief can be extreme. Parents often have no energy for several months following their child’s death. They feel listless, tired and unable to concentrate. This is especially difficult for those parents who must return to work soon after the death. There is often a loss of short-term memory, so they often find themselves driving but not knowing where they set out to go, or put something down and not be able to find it. The first question that many bereaved parents ask upon seeking grief support is reassurance that they are not going crazy and losing their minds (Klass, D., 1988).
 
HOW WE HELP PARENTS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE DEATH OF A CHILD:
At Bereaved Families of Ontario – Hamilton/Burlington we fully understand the reality facing parents who have experienced the death of a child. Our program objective is to support grieving parents to find new ideas and information on grief, coping, and reconciliation of the death of their child. BFO-HB offers a support system that is unique and has been proven to be effective for long-term coping success for bereaved parents. Our team of bereaved parent volunteers, with the support of mental health professionals, lead the path to healing by example and experience.
 
By providing timely support for parents who have experienced the death of their child, we are able to assist parents to restore family life in a healthy way, and reintegrate back into community life and the workplace.
 
Our programs are not meant to replace individual professional counselling but act as an adjunct to existing community mental health services. We work collaboratively with our partners to ensure bereaved parents in our community receive the support they need to start a healthy path to healing.
 
WHY THE SELF-HELP GROUP MODEL?"
Self-help involves people coming together on the basis of common experiences to draw upon their own strengths in order to help themselves and one another. Participants give emotional, social, and practical support to each other. They explore and find new understanding together, enhancing self-esteem and self-efficacy. There is a growing realization among those who care for the bereaved that support groups are an appropriate and effective way to help bereaved people heal, particularly bereaved parents. Attending a support group facilitated by skilled facilitators often brings comfort and understanding beyond many peoples' expectations.
 
Support groups help bereaved people by:
 
  • Countering the sense of isolation that many experience in our shame-based, mourning-avoiding culture.
  • Providing emotional, physical, and spiritual support in a safe, nonjudgmental environment.
  • Allowing them to explore their many thoughts and feelings about grief in a way that helps them be compassionate with themselves.
  • Encouraging members to, not only receive support and understanding for themselves, but also to provide the same to others.
  • Offering opportunities to learn new ways of approaching problems (e.g. the friend or in-law who lacks an understanding of the need to mourn and pushes you to "return to normal").
  • Helping them trust their fellow human beings again in what for many in grief feels like an unsafe, uncaring world.
  • Providing a supportive environment that can reawaken their zest for life.(Wolfelt, A., 1994)
 
 
 

 

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Bereaved Families of Ontario
Hamilton/Burlington
293 Wellington St. N
Suite 118
Hamilton, ON, L8L 8E7
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