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.
The Hunterdon Hospice Youth Art Bereavement Program is for children ages kindergarten through 12th grade who have experienced the loss of a loved one. This 12-week series will be held every Thursday evening beginning February 6th through April 30th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. at the Senior Center, 4 Gauntt Place, Building 1 (off Route 31 S) 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. Children use the creative medium of art to explore and express their grief and focuses on teaching children healthy coping skills in dealing 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 parents’ 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 a 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 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
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