Every Thursday night at 6:00, I went over to that small room where the children were. I was at the Hospice of The South Shore in Braintree, Massachusetts where I co-facilitate a children's bereavement group. In other words, I helped children cope and grieve with a parent's death.
My mother, who was the bereavement coordinator at the time, got my friend and me the job. I worked with children from four to seven years old with six in my group.
What I did in this group was interesting. We had each child bring in a shoe box; this was a "memory box" of their parent who had died. The shoe box could be decorated with anything they wanted to draw, paste, or put on it. In the box would be any memory that the child had of their parent. One child had his father's police badge and a picture of his father. Another had his father's hockey puck and a picture. During the time I spent with these children, they would draw pictures - pictures of their family and father or mother who had passed away. This way the children could cope by talking about their deceased parent. They also had journals for the older children to write their feelings in. Every time I entered that small room, I could not wait to talk to the children and help them.There were stuffed animals, tons of them, and before class each child would pick one and put on a puppet show. The children were so good coping with their loss. At the last session the group made a video, where the children described what was in their memory box and explained the pictures they drew.
Before I started the job, I thought it was going to be boring, a waste of time and also I did not really like children. My mother said "Try it ... it's your community service. You never know, you could get something out of it." Well, she was right.
I learned a whole lot. I now know what it is like for these children. Talking to them gave me an experience I never had before. Being a little child without a mother or father is so hard. I did my best to help them with their loss. They are pretty strong and showed their feelings very well. I love children now and will choose a career helping them when I get older. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.