Grief is something that impacts everyone at some point in their lives. It’s a topic that is especially hard for children and teens to grasp. Research says that 4% of children experience grief. Childhood bereavement is associated with psychiatric problems in the first two year after a death of a loved one.

There are limited resources in the Rochester and Winona area for children who are experiencing grief. As graduate students in Counseling Program, we recognize will be helping children through grief in various settings. Children need access to counselors, art therapy, music therapy and trauma-and-grief based therapy. They need a safe place to be able to process through the grief and so three of us, Shannon, Stephanie, and Meghan, decided to volunteer our time at Healing Adventures Camp, which is a day camp for children from ages 5-18 who’s loved one has died. The camp is sponsored by Mayo Clinic Hospice and offers various activities for children throughout the day.

Shannon was a co-facilitator of the fourth and fifth-grade group. She had six youth of fourth and fifth-graders in her group. She was a support for children to share about their loved one who had died, she helped students with rock climbing and processing through emotions, she answered questions about death, and was a leader to help children process through their grief and loss through different activities. Stephanie helped with music therapy. The children shared special memories of their loved one they lost and the special memories were put into a song that was sung at the end of camp for all children and their parents. Meghan was an activity helper and floated between activities with all age groups which included creating memory stones, forget me not flowers, key chains, memory pillows, a climbing wall and petting zoo.

Through our project, we recognized the lack of resources for people working with grieving children and created a brochure for school counselors, school social workers and parents. The brochure includes a list of resources such as camp in the area and in the twin cities area. It also provides information about books that are helpful for children who are grieving along with ideas to help grieving children, such as making a memory stone or making a picture frame.

-Stephanie Emanuel