As the new Community Relations Coordinator for Halifax Health – Hospice, little did I know that I would discover one of the best places for a child to work through the process of bereavement was right here, utilizing the resources of our children’s grief center.
Since opening its doors in 1998, the Lawrence E. Whelan BeginAgain Children’s Grief Center in Daytona Beach has gained national recognition as a premier center for grieving children, ages four to 18. Funded by Halifax Health – Hospice, we now have three other centers located in DeLand, Flagler Beach, and New Smyrna Beach that provide a safe place where children and their families can express their innermost feelings and realize they are not alone in their grief.
The Centers provide support groups facilitated by trained volunteers and bereavement counselors for both the children and their families. There are several rooms that are available for family members to share difficult feelings in our home-like setting. The Adult Circle Room offers a comfortable living room setting for the adults to not only share their own grief but to gain insight on how to help their children. The other rooms are designed especially for children to help them express their feelings through art, play, high energy games, and peer discussion. There is even a room with lots of pillows and a punching bag called the “tornado room” that is effective for getting out angry feelings that are so common with children.
For grieving families, this is a very precious resource of Halifax Health – Hospice that is available throughout Volusia and Flagler counties.
Also dating back to 1993, Camp BeginAgain was the forerunner of the Children’s Grief Center and continues to help young people following the death of a loved one. The annual weekend retreat for grieving children ages six to 18 combines recreational and sharing activities to create common bonds among campers who are experiencing similar emotions. A special memorial ritual is held at the end of camp for children to have the opportunity to honor and say goodbye to their loved one.
Ways to Support a Grieving Child
- Tell the truth about the death
- Answer only what is asked allowing the child to “teach us” what he needs to know
- Use the words “dead” & “died” avoiding euphemisms that can be confusing to children
- Accept tears, anger, sadness, guilt and regression
- Explain what to expect at the funeral/memorial and allow the child to make the choice if he wants to attend or not
- Talk about the person that died
- Show emotion as you are the role model for the child
- Remember and acknowledge special days