Taking to Kids About Grief
Ellen began by acknowledging what a very tough time it is for so many.
When Project Give Back Connects came to be four years ago, the Pandemic began and the world seemed unpredictable and unsettled. It was a way to spread resources with experts on resilience, self care and offer tips to help with our mental well-being during a difficult time.
We are here once again, unsettled, confused, and feeling a huge sense of grief and loss.
We live every day and always speak about life and living life to the fullest, the best we can. Yet,death is a huge part of life that we don’t typically speak about.
Maybe it’s because we don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s because we don’t know what to believe. Maybe it’s because it is so uncomfortable and everyone experiences grief in different ways.
After Jacob died, Ellen’s family members each grieved in their own way, and they still do. But thanks to some very good friends, they were introduced to a grief counsellor who helped guide them through an extremely confusing and difficult time in their lives.
Lisa Robinson is a registered Social Worker, who helped Ellen’s family learn to ‘puddle jump’. Lisa has worked closely with children and families experiencing grief for 15 years. This has included working with pediatric oncology patients and their families at Campfire Circle, in private practice and within the haematology and oncology division at Sickkids Hospital. Throughout her years working in this field, Lisa’s greatest accomplishments and joy have been the relationships that she has shared with people during their most difficult times.
And now is a challenging time for all. We have come out of a tumultuous time and we’re entering a world that is on fire with so much to process and grieve.
We were privileged to have Lisa share some tips on coping.
Lisa said that, as a society, we don’t do grief well. We don’t want to deal with big feelings, and it is hard to see others hurting.
Grief is so much more than death. We have anger, frustration, numbness or lack of feelings. Feelings we have when a change occurs in life. Yet, there is still room for joy and connection in grief as well.
How do we find that connection in making grief a collective experience? We are not alone in this.
When there is a collective experience that causes grief, it can be confusing because each person grieves differently. Collective grief is when everyone is experiencing the same experience that causes grief.
There is also cumulative grief, when we don’t lose the previous grief. It can bring up grief from the past.
Reality is, that grief is human and normal. When we normalize grief, it looks different for everyone. We are not trying to fix it. Instead, we need to learn how to sit with it, to validate our feelings while feeling them. Don’t tell people how to grieve, and don’t minimalist it, but do let them know they don’t need to grieve alone.
As humans, all we want to do is love. So it was only fitting to have Lisa end with this quote, “Grief is just love with no place to go”.
Another thing that Lisa mentioned was to create a common language. Ellen and her daughter Bevvy did just that. Last year, Ellen and Bevvy decided to create a children’s book to help other families who might experience the same pain they did.
As an educator, Ellen learned that 1 in every 5 students is grieving. There was a need for this type of book. After a year of writing and speaking to therapists, specialized doctors and professionals, they found the perfect illustrator, Lauie Stein, who worked with empathy, love and compassion.
And with that, Ellen introduced her first children’s book. She and Bevvy read and shared, ‘The Puddle Jumper’.
If you are a teacher or support worker and you would like this for your clients or your classroom, please reach out and one will be sent to you. This special project is funded by the Kimel Family.
Each Project Give Back Connects Episode features young performers who lend their incredible talents. Tonight we had Abby and Sarah Ginsburg who zoomed in from Halifax, where they are both studying at Dalhousie University. They performed, ‘Call Your Mom’ , a song by Noah Kohan. It’s about being there for your friends when they are going through tough times and it was so comforting and soothing for us all right now.
We ended with Kindness Corner with Cassandra and Lianne. The girls spoke about grief and finding happiness in small moments, as there are always bursts of light. For there is happiness, even in the darkest times. Laughter can be a powerful tool.
Cassandra spoke about her own experience about talking through grief, and suggested talking with someone you love.
Ellen concluded by sending you so much love, as we continue to jump from puddle to puddle.
We are so grateful for you. Thank you so much to all of you for joining Project Give Back Connects.
Our message to you as always.
Let’s be kind to one another.
Let’s embrace one another.
Let’s learn from one another.
Please send this Episode to anyone who you feel might appreciate these messages and lessons. You can listen to any of our previous episodes anywhere you listen to your podcasts. Just click Project Give Back Connects. Also, please subscribe to our YouTube channel on Project Give Back Connects.