Children’s Grief Awareness Day

cgad fbcover

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?

  1. Wear blue! Encourage your colleagues and friends to join you and let people know why blue is the color of the day.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.




Feelings Book

express yourself

express yourself

I’ve neglected the blog for a while and I’ve missed it!  I feel like 2013 is moving at warp speed.  I’m trying to stop and pay attention to the things I enjoy along the way and prescription for play is part of that process.  I enjoy having a place to share child life thoughts, tools and techniques.

When I first started my current job, I worked with a patient (I’ll call her Sarah) that needed a lot of child life support.  She was a very bright school age child with extensive rehab needs.  I spent lots of time with Sarah during treatments, procedures and therapies as she had a lot of anxiety and sometimes would have meltdowns.  We did a lot of medical play, art and open-ended doll play. Sarah had a lot of mixed emotions, particularly anger and sadness.  One of the activities that really helped her identify and eventually talk about these emotions was creating a feelings book.  I created a simple folded book for her called “My Book of Feelings”.  It was a great way to begin a conversation on different emotions and I have since used it with several patients.  Now, I’m sharing it here with you.

It is a very basic book that is geared toward patients 5-10yrs.  The patient has a space to decorate  the front cover and then on the inside page it says “Sometimes I feel…”.  Each page has an emotion: happy, sad, angry, silly, worried, etc.  I tried to alternate “positive” and “negative” emotions.  The patient can draw, write and respond to the emotion on the page in any way they like.  You can provide guidance with statements/questions like “you can draw or write what happy feels like to you”, “if happy were a color, what color would it be?”, “If happy were a song, what song would it be?”.  This book is already set up for 2-sided printing (you might have to play with the printer settings for which way it flips pages for duplex printing).  You can hole punch and tie with string or staple to bind it.  You can download the book here: My Book of Feelings

Talking with kids about traumatic events

The school shooting today in Connecticut is almost beyond imagining. My heart is heavy thinking of the grief of so many families. I also know that there will be families all over the country tonight struggling with how to talk with their children about these events. The amazing people at Sesame Street have a great parent toolkit called You Can Ask! that models how to address worries and fears and talk about scary events. You can find it here: You Can Ask!


Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.Fred Rogers