Children dealing with grief need to know they are not alone.
That’s why Faith Presbyterian Hospice hosts Camp Faith and Faith Kids for children ages 3 to 18 and their families who have experienced a loss of a parent or grandparent.
Camp Faith is a one-day grief camp, established in 2012 and occurring twice a year, while Faith Kids is an ongoing support group formed in 2015 and typically taking place twice a month.
Valerie Sanchez, director of bereavement and integrated therapy at FPH, said the camps start with families doing activities together.
“There’s one where they break a pot and then have to put it back together,” Sanchez said. “The idea is to metaphorically have the experience of that grief and loss and show that even though it can be destructive when you put it back together, it’s still a pot, even though it might not be the exact same as before.”
“We also do things like scrapbooking and making wreaths, and the idea is to honor and remember that person who died,” she said. “And that’s easier for children to do when they’re doing play or crafts because they understand that manipulation and that creativity. Once they do that, then they break up into age-specific groups of littles, middles, and teens, and they talk in circle time about why they came.”
In addition to activities and group talks, the camps also offer music therapy sessions, where the children have created a song titled, “You’re Never Alone,” that they sing at the end of every camp.
“That’s really our whole mission, our whole purpose, is that we understand that we’re all unique in our grief and that we’re not alone,” Sanchez said. “That’s why that peer group format works so well. Because they know they both lost somebody special, and they know they’re not the only kid this has happened to. Because sometimes, in school they are the only kid this has happened to, and children don’t want to be different. It helps to show them they aren’t the only ones.”
Another focus is on arming children and families with knowledge of the grief process, so they know what is normal and how to remember the lost loved one in a healthy way.
“We give children and parents tools to be able to work together and talk about their feelings,” Sanchez said. “We decrease the isolation of grief and increase the knowledge of it, so they know they’re not crazy or weird, that they’re grieving and that’s okay. It creates the opportunity to be in a safe place, to answer those very difficult questions and start thinking about what will bring joy. It’s education, information, and support.”
• Camp Faith one-day sessions take place in August and December.
• Faith Kids support group typically meets the second and fourth Thursdays of every month.
Email [email protected]g or call 214-406-6296 for more information about these free experiences.
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