WHY A GRIEF NETWORK
We recognize that the support received by a grieving child or youth can significantly influence his/her wellbeing. As a result we aim to connect individuals and organizations who provide services and resources that benefit children and youth who are grieving a death.
Every child and youth has honest information and well-informed support when someone they care about is dying or has died.
Every child’s rights should be respected
There should be a broad range of grief support (formal and informal) available to all children and youth
Grief support should be culturally sensitive
Communities need to have capacity to support grieving children and youth: education and access to education, tools and services
Every child is unique and their response to death is individual
Grief support strives to give children and youth coping skills and increase their resilience to face life events
Accurate language is especially important in talking to young people about grief and death
To advocate for educational opportunities and support services that will benefit children and youth who are grieving the dying or the death of someone they care about.
What Kids Want to Know: The 4 C’s
Children need to be reassured:
1) They did not Cause the illness or death
2) They cannot Catch the illness
3) They cannot Cure the illness
4) Someone will take Care of them
WANT YOU TO KNOW
- Grieving children want to be told the truth.
- Grieving children want to be reassured that there will always be someone to take care of them.
- Grieving children want you to know that their grief is long lasting.
- Children often cope with grief and loss through play.
- Grieving children want you to know that they will always miss the person who died.
- Often grieving children want to share their story and talk about the person who died.
- Every child grieves differently.
- Grieving children often feel guilty.
- I might be acting out, what I’m really feeling is intense emotions of grief.
- If you’re not sure what a grieving child wants, just ask them!
To read the full document please visit the National Alliance for Grieving Children.
TIPS TO HELP
Don’t Be Afraid to Engage: When a child you know experiences the death of a parent, it is important to engage that child on some level. Visit with the family. Share a favorite memory.
Listen and Be Present: Having an opportunity to tell his or her story is often beneficial to a child’s healing process. It is important to really listen when they are sharing.
It’s Okay to Ask: When in doubt, ask a grieving child how you can help. Expect that you might get a range of answers or even a myriad of questions about grief.
Understand How Children Grieve: Children will grieve for the rest of their life. It is important to remember that each child has his or her own way of grieving.
Create Opportunities for Rituals: Rituals can give children tangible ways to acknowledge their grief and to honor the memory of those who have died.
Bring Your Families Together: Although invitations might be turned down, continue to invite grieving children and families to participate in so¬cial gatherings and outings.
Lend a Hand, but Be Specific: Grieving parents to delegate more, but they often hesitate to do so. Don’t wait to be asked— and be specific when you do ask. “Could I take your kids to basketball practice on Tuesday?”
Spread the Word: Make sure to talk to your friends about engaging with grieving families. Be an advocate to ensure that grieving children and families do not have to grieve alone.
Text reproduced from the “Grief Journey of a Child”, research made possible by The New York Life Foundation. For the full document, click here.
ADDITONAL LINKS AND
The Children and Youth Grief Network Video Series
A video series to inform school staff on how to best support grieving children and youth in the school and in the classroom.
Retired Teachers of Ontario – Thank you to the Retired Teachers of Ontario for the generous funding support used to create our Educational Video series.
Services Available in the Region of Peel and the Greater Toronto Area
Andrea Warnick Consulting – private counselling, education and professional consultation, – Serving the Greater Toronto Area, also available is sessions by phone or skype for those out of the region.
Bereaved Families of Ontario – Halton Peel- Provides open and closed groups for youth and young adults. Provides 1:1 support for youth (ages 14 – 29) that are grieving the death of a loved one.
Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre – Provides counselling and group events at no-charge within the city of Toronto. Runs Camp Erin Toronto which is open to bereaved children throughout Southern Ontario.
HUUG Program – 1:1 support for children (ages 0-19) that are grieving the dying or the death of a family member for the Peel Region.
Lighthouse Program for Grieving Children – Serving Halton, Peel and GTA Peer Support Groups
Websites for Additional Information on Supporting Grieving Children
“For adults grief is like wading through this enormous river whereas for children it’s puddle jumping, but when they are in that puddle it’s no different to the river.”
– Julie Stokes
Handbooks (Supporting children and Youth)
Handbook to Support Children: A HANDBOOK FOR VOLUNTEERS: SUPPORTING CHILDREN GRIEVING THE DYING AND DEATH OF A LOVED ONE (available in English and French)
Handbook to Support Youth: A HANDBOOK FOR SUPPORTERS: EXTENDING COMPASSION & CARE TO GRIEVING YOUTH (available in English)
These handbooks are intended for volunteers and professionals who have received formalized training in the field of children and youth grief support.
As a supporter, you play a very important role in a child’s life – the work you do will not only serve them in their grief, but will help them to cope with other challenges that they might face in their lives.
Click here to request the handbooks
Grief and Death Education Toolkit for School Settings
This Toolkit is an initiative is to help educators feel more comfortable addressing concepts of death and grief within the school setting. It includes an outline of death education, lesson plans, tip sheets, and resource lists that compliment Ontario curriculum standards for grades 4-10.
Click here to request the Grief and Death Education Toolkit, ENGLISH version
Click here to request the Grief and Death Education Toolkit, FRENCH version
The French version of this resource is now available for ordering.
The French translation of this resource is only available for PDF download and NOT available for hard copy.
Family Day Toolkit
This resource was put together after the CYGN launched their first two family day programs in 2017. We compiled all of the planning resources, documents and learnings into one file so that other communities can hopefully deliver a similar program in a more streamlined way.
E-learning Course, Weathering the Storm: Parenting Grieving Children
This interactive e-learning course was created in partnership with the CYGN and the Family Education Centre and was developed using the content of the CYGN Handbooks. The grief e-course has been created to support the caregivers of grieving children and youth and help them navigate the challenges of providing care after someone has died.
Tip sheets and Audio Podcasts
FREE tip sheets and podcasts (available in seven languages) were created in Partnership with the Children and Youth Grief Network and the Family Education Centre
Downloadable Tip Sheets and Podcasts for Grieving Caregivers include:
1.Communicating with Your Child or Youth about Grief
2. Tips for Recognizing a Grieving Child or Youth
3. The Importance of Self-Care In Helping Youth Child or Youth Grieve
4. Parenting When Your Child or Youth is Grieving
Click here to access these tips sheets and audio podcasts.
Resource Map Infographic
In the Fall of 2017, we created a short, electronic survey to determine the type of grief resources people wanted to access or were likely to use. We distributed the survey link within our networks (on social media, in newsletters, at network events) and summarized the results. To our delight, many of the preferred resources had already been created by our network partners, or were in the early stages of development. If you are looking for a specific resource, see below for where you can find it!
Click here to access Resource Map.
The following is a full compilation and summary of all resources The Children and Youth Grief Network (CYGN) has developed to date. Please feel free to print this PDF and distribute to those in need.
Click here for Resource Summary Page.
Updated Literature Review 2019
Our 2015 Needs Assessment and previous Literature Review identified the death of a family member as a particularly devastating experience for young children, and one that may disrupt developmental pathways. Current research (2018) shows there has been a significant increase in attention being given to how to effectively meet the emotional and practical needs of grieving or bereaved young people but there remains a gap between theory and the coordinated availability of well-informed, evidence-based grief support for children, particularly vulnerable young people.
In the Spring of 2019, The Children and Youth Grief Network (CYGN) released a newly updated Literature Review and Overview Summary on Children and Youth Grief! The Literature Review and Overview are part of the “Crossroads of Grief: Understanding Grief and Diversity Project,” which addresses the lack of knowledge and resources related to the complex interplay of grief with other sociological barriers.
To read Crossroads of Grief Project – Overview of Literature Review, click here.
To read Crossroads of Grief Project – Complete Literature Review, click here.
The literature search focuses on key articles, reports, etc. published between 2010 and 2015. The articles in the lit search reflect current thinking on the many different aspects of grief and bereavement among children and youth people. To read the literature search click here.
Supplement to Literature Search
The supplement to literature search discusses helplines, chat lines, social media, on-line support, etc. that is available to children and youth when seeking out support with grief and bereavement. To read the supplement search click here.
Population and School Data
The Children and Youth Grief Network strives to search for and use current data to better inform the understanding of the children, youth and families being supported and served, including estimates of how many grieving children there are. Using data from 2016 Statistics Canada (Census of Canada and Mortality Data), estimates for the numbers of grieving children were estimated in Canada, Ontario, Halton, Peel and Toronto. Click here to view this data.
Family Education Centre Survey
The CYGN hopes that by 2021, every child and youth has honest information and well-informed support when someone they care about is dying or has died. To that end, we continue to work with our network partners to create programs and resources, offer trainings, and undertake quality research that supports a wide community of individuals who care for and interact with grieving young people. This includes: teachers, coaches, school administrators, clinicians, parents and caregivers, health care providers, spiritual leaders, etc. In order to support our applications and plans for new resources in 2018, we wanted to better understand the community’s understanding of grieving children and youth. We created a short, electronic survey in the Fall 2017 and distributed it within our networks (on social media, in newsletters, at network events), and inquired about what types of grief resources people would like to see/were likely to use. We also wanted to know what community members wanted to learn about grief and how they wanted to receive this information. The results of this survey can be found here.
Family Day Survey
Our inaugural Children’s Grief Awareness Family Day was launched in November 2017 and was born out of the expertise of our network partners, in response to the needs of local parents and families and our research findings on the value of peer support and access to local services. We had the pleasure of hosting two Family Day within Halton and Peel Region. Each event was open to all children, youth and caregiver’s who were grieving a death within their family.
The Children and Youth Greif Network launched their first ever Children’s Grief Awareness Family Days in November 2017.These events were born out of the expertise of our network partners, in response to the needs of local parents and families and our research findings on the value of peer support and access to local services. As part of our process, we were committed to evaluating both the caregiver and children/youth components of the day, to determine what worked well and what can be improved for future offerings. We compiled all of the data and created nfographics to visually represent the key lessons and feelings from the day. Click here to view the parent evaluation and here for the children’s evaluation.
Look how we have grown on social media! Click here to view.
Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone (KHP) is a National organization that reached over 1.2 MILLION youth last year and mental/ emotional health were the most prominent topic for calls (they don’t have a grief category but grief and bereavement is often revealed as a contributing factor during conversation). KHP offers phone, live chat and text services 24/7. KHP also offers post-secondary student counselling support through the Good2Talk line and uses the same information database to do so. According to recent statistics from KHP:
• In 2017, KHP averaged 163 counselling sessions per day – 59, 531 sessions total for the year.
• Most frequently discussed issue is mental and emotional health – 34% of all sessions.
-5% of these calls dealt specifically with the issue of grief
• That means that Kids Help Phone has 3 calls or chats every single day from someone who is grieving! And this does not include calls that are related to grief in other ways.
Drawing on the immense expertise of the network partners, CYGN members updated information, research and best practices to the tip sheets used by the counsellors who interact directly with youth everyday across Canada. CYGN is also continuing to work at using the data collected by KHP to determine the impact of this updated information.
Feedback on the resources has been very positive with counselors across the organization sharing that they are helpful references in their work.
CYGN is very grateful to have this partnership and the opportunity to improve and update information shared with youth experiencing grief. Thank you, Kids Help Phone! Click here to view the results.
Youth Handbook Survey Results
In February 2018 The Children and Youth Grief Network (CYGN) released the most recent resource aimed to support grieving youth. ‘The Handbook for Supporters: Extending Compassion & Care to Grieving Youth’ has been widely distributed and the first user survey results are in! Check out that impact!
Click here to read the results
Revised Children’s Handbook Survey
Coming Summer 2019
Grief and Death Education Toolkit Survey
Coming Summer 2019
Partnership Self Assessment Tool
Children and Youth Greif Network (CYGN) is funded by the Region of Peel’s Collaboration Fund. The fund is designed to “support community partners to address complex social problems by working collaboratively to achieve a collective impact.
The Region of Peel has given grant recipients 11 questions to survey with partners and we have been collecting data on ourselves and our growing capacity for three years. Networks need to focus on not only their identified community outcomes but also the processes of the collaboration – an evaluation that measures both the impacts and a pulse on the partnerships is essential in understanding and improving the work and goals of the network. The questions focus on the collective vision of the network, the perceptions and experiences of partners, identifying whether people are engaged, believe in the group’s ability and are confident that decisions are transparent and inclusive. CYGN added 2 additional questions in 2018 in order to measure our understanding of regional demographics as well as how well our efforts are inclusive of marginalized or historically oppressed people.
GUESS WHAT? The Children and Youth Grief Network is building its’ CAPACITY!! Click here to view our partnership survey.
Region of Peel Children and Youth Grief and Bereavement Needs Assessment
In April 2015, the Children and Youth Grief Network was granted funds from the Region of Peel to conduct a Needs Assessment in the Peel Region. Prepared by Barbara Pidcock and Health Systems Solutions Inc., the needs assessment identified barriers and gaps that prevent or inhibit children and youth from accessing grief and bereavement services. For the full PDF report click here.