I’m so excited! The new (Summer 2015) edition of the Child Life Council Bulletin includes an article that Genevieve Lowry and I wrote on private practice. We discuss some of the reasons we took child life into the community, and the ways in which CCLS in alternative and healthcare settings can collaborate to expand support for children and families. You can check out our article on page 6 as well as a lot of great information on child life in alternatives settings, by following the link and clicking on the “current issue”: Child Life Council Bulletin
There’s a great post highlighting the work of child life super star Teresa Schoell over at Child Life Mommy. Teresa has created a sucessful one-person program and is a frequent and very knowledgeable contributor to the CLC forum. So, if you need a little child life inspiration today, check out her story: Success in A One Person Child Life Program
So, I’ve been away from the blog forever. I’ve honestly been meaning to write this post for at least two months. But, life has been a little crazy and wonderfully exciting lately because Jeff and I are expecting a baby! I’m due in August and the two of us can’t wait to have this sweet little person join our family. We have planned and thought and hoped for this baby for a while, so to learn I was pregnant in December was the very best Christmas present. The weeks that followed were filled with holidays, doctor visits, first ultrasound, lots of evenings at home, and trying to wrap our brains around this new journey.
I’m now 18 weeks and starting to look and feel pregnant. The first trimester was filled with lots of excitement and firsts, but also considerable fatigue and daily “morning sickness” (which was often worst in the evening). I’ve logged far more hours curled up on our futon with our cats than I care to admit :) Thankfully, I’m now starting to feel more energetic and most of the queasiness is gone. It’s been fun to start picking out baby gear like car seats and cribs and plan for the arrival of our little peanut.
I know that my profession will influence the parent I am becoming and parenting will change what I bring to my professional life. I can’t wait to see what playfulness is in store.
Today is Children’s Grief Awareness Day and people all over the country are showing their support for children who have experienced the death of a loved one by wearing blue. Bo’s Place, my local grief support center, worked with a local high school origami group to create blue butterflies for volunteers and family members to wear in honor of the day. I proudly pinned my butterfly to my sweater this morning and took the opportunity to tell my college of education students about how they could refer grieving families for free support. Grief, and children’s grief in particular, isn’t an easy subject to talk about. Unfortunately, this means that many community members don’t know what to say or do to help children after the death of a loved one. Children’s Grief Awareness Day gives us an opportunity to share helpful tips, bring awareness to local grief organizations, fund raise, and make our wish for hope and healing visible. So, how can you help?
- Wear blue! Encourage your colleagues and friends to join you and let people know why blue is the color of the day.
- Spread the word through social media. Use Hope the butterfly (shown above) as your profile picture or cover art on your favorite social media site and use the hashtag #cgadhope. You can download logos and images here.
- Find your local grief support center and learn how to refer families for services. Consider volunteering, donating, or helping them spread the word about their work in the community. You can search for a center in your area at the National Alliance for Grieving Children
- Share tips for supporting grieving children with your school, house of worship, or other organization that works with families. You can use this flyer from Bo’s Place.
- Make blue butterfly crafts. You could start a wall of hope where people can write names or messages on blue paper butterflies. Make and wear blue accessories. Wanna make a blue butterfly origami pin like the one from Bo’s Place? Simply follow this instruction video and adhere with a safety pin.
- Learn more about Children’s Grief Awareness Day
Let’s spread a little hope as we approach the holiday season by supporting families that have experienced the death of a loved one.
I’ve been going through resources on comfort positioning recently and rediscovered this video from Dell Children’s Medical Center. Using comfort positions for procedures can make a huge difference in children’s level of anxiety and cooperation for new/scary medical procedures. Being in a more upright position with a trusted parent or caregiver is a relatively quick and easy intervention with big benefits. I love this video from Dell as it explains why comfort positioning is helpful, gives examples of positions for different procedures, and is presented by an awesome nurse from the emergency department (sometimes medical staff respond better to hearing from other providers). Hope this resource helps those of you looking to increase the use of comfort positioning at your hospital!
I had a fun boost recently when a popular local blog did a feature on me and my private practice! Jill writes the Big Kid Small City blog and highlights family friendly people, places and events in Houston. You can find the piece about me by following the link:
Any Houstonians (or visitors to the area) should browse around the blog as there are reviews of local parks, kid-friendly restaurants, and a guide to events in the area for every weekend.
I’ve mentioned in blog posts before that I’m a Playmaker. Recently, a fellow Playmaker posted to the group Facebook page asking for resources and information to support a preschooler whose father died. I gathered some of my go-to resources to respond and thought that others might find them useful. I’m posting them here so I’ll remember, and hopefully it will help others as well. Please feel free to add suggestions for other materials in the comments, as it is great to have a variety of materials to serve different families and needs.
Sesame Street “When Families Grieve”
Sesame Workshop has created wonderful resources for caregivers of young children around grief. They have created two guides, one for the general public and one for military families with accompanying facilitator guides. These are available as a family packet that contains a parent resource guide, DVD with a story featuring Elmo, and a children’s storybook. You can order them (for free!) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download or print all of the materials from their website.
The Fred Rogers Company “Dealing with Death”
This parent resource page is a wonderful, brief overview of working with young children who have experienced a loss. It discusses children’s curiosity and questions surrounding death, feelings expression, and the need to prepare children for funerals and rituals surrounding death. The “Helpful Hints” tab has good guidelines for talking about death with young children.
Books for Young Children
There are many books for early childhood that cover death and grief. Here are a few of my favorites that are suitable for a general audience as they use simple, but gentle and truthful language, and avoid specific reference to any one religious belief. I am linking to the Amazon pages for these books for easy reference, but do not receive any monetary gain from doing so.
I Miss You: A First Look At Death by Pat Thomas
Where Are You: A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie
Although not specifically about death, the next two books can be useful for helping children feel a continued connection with the deceased:
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
Locate a Family Grief Support Center
New York Life and the Moyer Foundation have partnered to create the National Bereavement Resource Guide which includes listings for grief support centers/organizations and grief camps in every state.
The Centering Corporation has many resources including books, pamphlets and educational materials for working with bereaved families.
I hope that these resources are useful for supporting young children experiencing grief and loss. Please share resources you find helpful in the comments!
Photo Credit: Jessica Lucia via Flickr