Children + Teen Grief
Cornerstone of Hope provides children’s grief services in Cleveland, Columbus, Lima, and the surrounding areas of Ohio
Helping Children & Teens Through the Grief Process
Children experience the same range of emotions as adults, but because they are still developing cognitively and emotionally, they are not able to grieve in the same way. Children’s coping skills are limited and, for this reason, they need to grieve intermittently, or in small spurts, for a longer period of time.
Due to their developmental limitations, children need education about grief as well as assistance in identifying their complex feelings. For them, grief issues will resurface throughout their growth. As they develop mentally and emotionally, they will need further education and support to become happy and healthy adults.
Children’s Grief Services for All Ages
We believe that all children grieve a loss; however, they are not all developmentally ready to work through their grief with the help of a professional. It is difficult for young children under the age of six to talk to a professional about their grief at a scheduled time.
When young children are experiencing grief, they express it in the moment or in their behaviors. It is important for the parent(s)/caregiver(s) to understand how their young child experiences grief, so they can better support them through the process. That is why the therapists work with the parent/caregiver to help create boundaries and a supportive atmosphere at home that will nurture grieving infants and preschoolers. Five-year-olds may be appropriate for limited sessions with a therapist, but emphasis is directed on helping a parent/caregiver emotionally support the child.
Elementary School Age
Children ages six through ten understand the finality of death and are more capable of working through their grief with the help of a professional. Due to their limited vocabulary and cognitive development, it can be difficult for children to express their grief verbally.
Through the use of storybooks, games, and art & creative therapy, we help children understand their emotions and learn healthy ways to cope. The therapist also keeps open communication with the parent/caregiver to provide parenting support.
Junior/Middle School Age
As children get older, they are better able to verbalize their emotions but continue to express their grief through behaviors. Common problems include a decline in academic performance, sleep changes, and somatic complaints such as headaches and stomachaches.
Through the use of books, games, and art & creative therapy, we help children understand ways in which grief affects them and how to manage it. In addition, we work with the parents/caregivers to help them understand what their children are experiencing and establish ways they can support their children through this process.
High School Age
Once a child has reached adolescence, he/she may have an adult understanding of death. Even though adolescents have the vocabulary to express themselves, they often do not share what they are experiencing because they do not want to appear different from their peers.
Due to their already difficult life stage, adolescents’ experience with grief is unique. They are neither children nor adults. Instead, teens constitute a special group of mourners who deserve a special kind of care and consideration from the adults around them. We use various creative therapies to help adolescents work through their grief while educating them about the grief process.
Art Interventions – A creative approach to children’s grief
Art therapy is one of the main modalities Cornerstone of Hope uses in working with children and teens. Art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. No artistic skill is necessary to benefit from art therapy.
Verbalizing thoughts and feelings can be difficult, especially during stressful life events. An art therapist can guide a client through the creative process in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. The simple use of color or line can communicate complex feelings or experiences without words.
The artwork can also be a stepping stone to verbal communication about feelings or events. At Cornerstone of Hope, our professionally trained art therapists hold a Masters Degree in art therapy and are trained in both art and psychology. We use art therapy to assist in moving through the grieving process because it allows people to do the following:
• Get in touch with, accept, and express feelings
• Foster positive coping behaviors
• Gain insight and understanding
• Reduce anxiety and provide emotional release
• Create memorials that express the significance of the life of the deceased
Bereavement Summer Camps
The youth who are grieving often feel alone, believing they are the only ones who have lost a loved one. However, at camp, they meet others who have also had a loss. Cornerstone combines traditional camp activities and field trips with personalized memorial projects. Through these experiences, meaningful friendships are formed.
We offer three unique camps for grieving children and teens: