When the Imagine conference could not proceed for a second year due to the ongoing pandemic, the AHPCA team still wanted to provide in-depth learning opportunities to our audience. The answer was Roadshow In-Depth, two all-morning sessions to give a chance for our presenters and audience to go deeper into the topics.
On the morning of November 15, Andrea Warnick presented Kids Grieve Too to the Roadshow In-Depth audience. Andrea is a registered psychotherapist, a registered nurse, and thanatologist with over 20 years of experience supporting grieving children, families and communities. While the dying and death of a significant person is one of the most powerful disruptions of a child’s emotional existence, few people receive formal training in how to support these kids. Andrea pointed out that we can ALL learn to speak to kids about loss and grief, even though the information is not consistently presented to frontline health care workers, let alone parents. As adults, it is our job to start that conversation with kids who are facing loss.
Not sure how to start that conversation? Kids want to know certain things about death: 1) Did I cause it?; 2) Can I catch it?; 3) Can I cure it?; 4) Who is going to take care of me?; and 5) How will I stay connected? Use kid-friendly language. Don’t be afraid of using the words “death” and “dying.” Start the conversation!
I learned some great assessment questions and focus on kid-friendly language for conversations about death and serious illness.
I enjoy Andrea’s approachable and authentic presentation style and her wealth of experience and knowledge!
Roadshow In-Depth participant
On November 16, the Roadshow In-Depth audience spent the morning learning from Dr. Jody Carrington and Jessica Janzen as they presented Finding Meaning in the Mess of Grief. Jessica shared her personal story of loss and how she began to try to make sense of it. When you are facing a massive loss and sitting in the mess of your grief, if you stay in the question of “why”, it holds you in its grip. Jessica suggests flipping the script and instead asking “so now what?”
The way that Jessica shared her story so vulnerably and authentically was incredibly powerful. The breaks were greatly appreciated due to the highly emotional content of the session.
Roadshow In-Depth Participant
Dr. Jody walked participants through some aspects of handling a big loss. She pointed out that it is impossible to address grief without acknowledging it, in other words, you need to name it to tame it. Often grief looks like anger because it is much easier to be angry rather than feel sad. “Mad is sad’s bodyguard.” We get through grief by feeling it rather than just talking about it. There is a big difference between addressing grief cognitively and emotionally processing grief. Many people just don’t know what to say to people who are grieving. Start with, “Tell me more” and keep going with, “What is the hardest part.”
My main take from today was that we need to acknowledge the situation (grief, pain or trauma) before we can start to manage it.
Roadshow In-Depth Participant
Thank you to all participants who chose to spend their Monday and Tuesday mornings learning at the Roadshow In-Depth. And thank you to Andrea Warnick, Dr. Jody Carrington and Jessica Janzen for sharing your experience and knowledge.