Holly Oxendale, Executive Director | Tides
Children are the loves of our lives; the ones who help us strive to live life to the fullest; the next generation. They can be compassionate, brutally honest, hilariously funny, and very emotional. They are sponges soaking up the wisdom and intellect, mannerisms, and daily routines of those around them. This is why it is so important that we as adults strive to raise awareness and bring attention to the importance of mental health in our children.
November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month. Every year at this time, organizations across the country join together to bring awareness to the effects grief has on children and the positive impact a supportive role model has on a grieving child.
While Tides focuses and offers support to the entire family who is specifically mourning and grieving the death of a person they hold dear, this year we must take into consideration the grief and sadness so many of our children are facing on a weekly and daily basis – from the death of a loved one to lack of time spent with friends and family, from school closures to cancellations of annual events. These changes in life and adjustments to schedules affect us as adults…can you imagine how much of an impact they have on children? Depending on the age of a child, they may acknowledge and express their grief in different ways. While some children may grieve similarly, we must remember and take into consideration that each person – child or adult – grieves in their own unique way. As adults, it may not be obvious that a child is grieving or we may not understand that their actions are expressions of mourning rising to the surface. But, if we take the time to dig down deep into the layers of their emotions, we ourselves can learn a lot from a child and have a lasting and significant influence on the children in our lives – whether they are our own children, nieces or nephews, grandchildren, or the child who is like a son or daughter.
When given the opportunity to mourn outwardly and openly in a safe and nurturing environment, a child is more likely to continue living their best life to the fullest without serious, long-lasting emotional effects. So, I urge you to take time today to ask a child in your life how they are doing. I mean, REALLY how are they doing… “fine” is not an acceptable answer. Ask if they are missing their loved one? Ask how COVID has effected their life and how they have adjusted? Make a loving and caring impact by devoting some time to discover what is going through their mind. Open your ears. Allow room for silence. Seek to learn from the child. Offer a hug. This conversation could be just the beginning of many more to come.
Tides in a grief support program for children, adolescences, and adults who have experienced the death of a loved one. Tides strives to bring people together to support ones another and bring awareness of the positive role of grief support can have on individuals who are facing the loss of someone they hold dear. More information about Tides programs, can be found at www.tidesprogram.org.