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Hunterdon News

Hunterdon Hospice Youth Art Bereavement Program: Healing Children Through Art

Pictured: One example of a project created to express feelings of loss during the Youth Art Bereavement Program offered by Hunterdon Hospice.

January 9, 2017

The Hunterdon Hospice Youth Art Bereavement Program is for children ages kindergarten to 12th grade who have experienced a loss.  This 12-week series will be held every Thursday beginning January 26th through April 20th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. at the Senior Center at 4 Gaunt Place, Building 1 in Flemington.  The fee for the program is $75 per family.

The Hospice Youth Art Bereavement Program is sensitive to the differences of a child’s response to death and loss.  The creative arts therapy model focuses on teaching children healthy coping skills and how to deal with their grief.  Since art therapy does not necessarily rely on verbal communication, a child who is shy or not able to articulate their feelings can work through their grief by using art.

Children are assigned to groups based on their developmental age.  Being with peers who have had similar experiences normalizes the grief process.  Through this interaction children learn to empathize with others, which can give them insight into their own pain.  Listening and observing other children’s expressions of grief may also help them openly express their own feelings.

While children are involved in the art program, parents are encouraged to attend a special bereavement support group to help them cope with their grief.  In addition, the group helps parents learn about their child’s perception of loss, as well as interventions for coping with their own grief.

So often, in our society, those who are suffering after the loss have very little support.  This program helps children by providing art therapy projects and by giving them the opportunity to talk about their feelings.

Goals of Youth Art Bereavement Program:
• Realize that there are many feelings associated with grieving, and that it is acceptable to express them.
• Feel comfortable in a safe environment where they can talk about their feelings.
• Experience some of their memories in a positive way.
• Create a positive self image.
• Use various methods to help them cope when they are feeling down or confused.
• Communicate their thoughts and feelings to the important people in their lives.
• Recognize that living goes on despite the grief caused by death.

Trained counselors conduct all sessions and the program is coordinated by Diane Gilbert, LCSW.  To register or for more information, call 908-788-6600.


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