Children Teaching Children about Grief in a Therapeutic Group Setting
In November, I was privileged to present a workshop at both the Oregon and North Carolina School Counselor Association’s annual conferences on grief. As I prepared for each conference, I was thrilled that the agenda for the presentation would primarily come from the children who participated in our film, Children and Grief. After a quick introduction about myself, I introduced Professor Child’s concept of children teaching children and from that point on, the focus was on the wisdom of the children who participated in this film. Both the film and the workbook were the primary teaching tools for the presentations. Since the Children and Grief film is 10 chapters long, I played one or two chapters at a time and in-between the film footage, went through some of the workbook discussions questions and exercises to use with children. These workshops were geared toward teaching school counselors and modeling how to run a therapeutic grief group in a school setting. However, the film and workbook can also be used with individual children suffering from grief with a parent or any concerned, safe adult. I have watched the children in this film so many times that I forgot about the initial impact of how it affects people seeing it for the first time. Each time I showed part of the film, I noticed many people wiping their eyes, blowing noses, etc. as they listened to the wisdom of these children talking about how they have dealt with the death of a loved one. It was very impacting to see the film through the eyes of those first time watchers and reinforced the importance of hearing what our children have to say, whether it is about grief, divorce, being part of a military family or any other topic for that matter. For many years, I ran children’s therapeutic groups in school settings and what has left the most lasting impact on me was how much kids care about what their peers have to say about a shared experience. This is what makes me so excited about Professor Child’s work as it empowers children to share their experiences and gives them the role of the expert, a role which children are very rarely given.
by Sharon Richards