I dimly recall, either shortly before or after Lizy passed away, one of the doctors or nurses or maybe both, talking with us about Fernside and how it could be benneficial to our children. I didn’t pay much attention. Actually, I’m sure I paid attention, I just wasn’t capable of absorbing any more information.
When we met with the funeral director, he mentioned Fernside. A little more information soaked in that time.
A day or two after that, a friend asked if we had heard about Fernside. I told her that I dimly recalled hearing something about it and she told us more – actually, it was probably all the same information we had heard before.
After the funeral was over and family was gone and things were quiet and the numbness of the last two weeks began to ebb, I received a call from a stranger. She’s not a stranger any more though. The funeral home we chose provides follow up care. This lovely woman asked to meet with me to provide some information concerning, not only how adults grieve, but how children grieve and how to help them. Again, Fernside was mentioned.
Information came from the hospital, including a large packet about Fernside.
Finally, I wrapped my brain around the fact that Heavenly Father was sending us a message that this was something we needed to do.
“So, what’s Fernside?” You’re probably asking.
Fernside is the nation’s second oldest children’s grief center.
That’s right it’s for children! Ages 3-18.
They are a non-profit organization that offers peer support groups for children and their parents. They divide the ages into separate groups, and the parents attend their own group. They work with the children on expressing their feelings & emotions. They help the children express and share memories. They do art, games, talk.
It’s a wonderful group.
We sent Jacob, Em, and Dot to their one time summer camp this summer and it was wonderful. Because of it we found out that Em was carrying a huge burden and we could help her and resolve parts of it. Because of what they do, projects they create, it opens up conversation and things come to light that kids may not talk about otherwise.
They take a break for summer, so we didn’t start attending their regular meetings until things started up at the beginning of the month. We attend sibling loss night – which meets twice a month. It’s been wonderful. We have wonderful conversations as we drive home with the kids as they share what they did and what it means and how they feel.
While the kids meet with their groups, Paul and I meet with some of the other parents. I was unsure at first, but I think it’s good. I think maybe I can help some of them some way, and they can help me. It’s nice having others who understand a part of the struggles and pain you face. The facilitators are great and encourage those attending the groups to find positivity, overcome guilt,etc. and help provide tools to those who need it.
We’ve only attended two meetings, but already we can feel how much our entire family will benefit from this. I never knew such places existed. I never needed to know. But I am so grateful that we were steered many times to it.
Out of curiosity I searched for Child Grief Centers on the web and there are lots all over the country. Fernside doesn’t just deal with sibling loss, in fact, that’s their smallest group, they deal with significant adult loss ( a parent or very close grandparent) too and other situations as well.
I think it’s a wonderful tool.
It’s so hard to know what is going on in those lovely kids’ heads.
It’s so hard to know how to help them.
And I am so grateful to have extra help, being sure we make it through this the best way possible.