The 2016 Calgary Census revealed that there are nearly 300 000 children and teens in living in Calgary. It is estimated that 15 000 of them are grieving after the death of a parent and many more have experienced the death of a sibling, other family member, or friend.
And that’s just in Calgary – there are many more bereaved children throughout Alberta. There are children who are grieving all around us: in our families, our neighbourhoods, our classrooms, our sports teams.
Children grieve when people in their lives die, each in their own individual and unique way. We know that how a family grieves impacts children. The following bring families together and help children in their grief:
- talking together about how we’re doing and what we need from each other;
- sharing memories, stories as well as feeling, concerns, and challenges;
- connecting with each other, spending time together;
- caring for each other through kind words, special attention, hugs, it all helps.
We also know that, as a community, when we recognize and support grieving children and teens, we reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness and we increase their feelings of connectedness and belonging.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day is on the third Thursday of November each year and we invite Albertans to wear blue on that day to show grieving children and teens that they are not alone.
Hospice Calgary provides grief counselling and support groups for children and teens in Southern Alberta after a death (sudden or after an illness) and when facing the life-threatening illness of a family member. Families self-refer. We also provide resources for families and for professionals on our website, which you can access from wherever you are.
Grief support services for families are also available elsewhere in Alberta. Check the AHPCA Resource Directory to find a service near you.
Written by Nadine Gariepy-Fisk, MA PGDipPT CPT CCC
Director, Child & Family Grief Services, Hospice Calgary