Executive Director: Holly Oxendale
Agency: Tides, Inc.
Written by Christen Bell
Children who experience the death of a loved one are more likely to be expelled from school, face mental health challenges, and struggle with addictions. At Tides, we know that influences such as a caring community, healthy coping mechanisms, and peer support, have an incredible impact on protecting the healthy development of grieving children.
November 17 is Children’s Grief Awareness Day. This year, Children’s Grief Awareness Day emphasizes the various ways that grief can take shape in the mind of a child. Grief can leave children feeling alone, afraid and misunderstood. The question of “why” often wreaks havoc in their minds. “Why did this happen? Why do I feel so alone? Why am I mad all the time? Why can’t I focus?” …because grief. All of these questions can be traced back to experiencing grief and children need to know they’re not alone in these feelings.
As we begin the holiday season with all the joy and anticipation it brings, Tides is continually remembering the families we serve. While we begin buying turkeys, planning special days and prepping for the joys of the season, we remember that many children in Centre County are doing it without the loved ones they cherish. There are many children, like Addi (8), who are preparing for another holiday season without their loved one.
“Sometimes I get a little sad because everyone in my class and at my school basically has a mom and I lost [mine]…" Addi says.
Our mission is to provide a grief support system to children, teens, and adults in order to form a community of individuals who know they do not need to grieve alone. Tides Nights, the flagship program of our organization, are full of children like Addi who come to Tides to be around others who can offer support, hope and comradery; particularly in the holiday season when grief is amplified. We strive to provide the positive resources needed to encourage a healthy grieving process and avoid the disrupted development that grief can bring.
As part of our approach to reach more grieving children, Tides has started peer support groups in several schools throughout Centre County. New York Life states 56% of those who lost a parent growing up say their peers didn’t know how to act around them after a loss. These peer support groups allow children to speak openly about their grief and receive support from other children who have experienced the death of someone close to them.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day is a nationally recognized time to remember the impact grief has on the lives of children and the importance of a positive support system from both adults and peers. This support in a child’s life is irreplaceable and we encourage you to join us in our efforts to reach more children in our community. We invite you to support grieving children on Children’s Grief Awareness Day, and all through the month of November, by helping us on our mission to provide grief support to more children, teens, and adults in Centre County. Visit www.tidesprogram.org to learn about what you can do to help.
Names are changed for protection of privacy.