The Kids & Grief Program has been in existence for almost five years and during that time has helped countless children throughout the region work though their grief. Children deal with grief differently than adults and the program reflects that.
“There isn’t a lot of discussion,” said Judy Seifert, bereavement coordinator for Hallmark Health VNA & Hospice, a member of Hallmark Health. “Kids more often grieve through activity.”
Group participants read books about loss, meet children that are going through similar situations, play, exercise as well as enjoy arts and crafts projects. Participants of the Kids & Grief Program also get the chance to play and visit with “Sweetie,” a white Tea Cup Maltese dog.
“Research shows there is a positive outcome for children’s bereavement support groups,” said Seifert. “The grieving process for kids is ongoing. The group validates what they’re feeling.”
Facilitated by mental health counselor Kelly Daugherty, the Kids & Grief Program is geared toward children between the ages of 6 and 12 that have experienced the death of a loved one. It meets for seven sessions on Wednesdays, 4 to 5:30 p.m., at the Franklin School, 14 Franklin St. in Melrose.
Seifert said the Kids & Grief Program has had children stay with them for years, allowing her to see how effective the program can be for participants. She said the program allows children to make sense of their grief and develop coping skills that they can use throughout their lives.
Parents can also benefit by participating in the Parent Support Group that meets at the same time and location as the Kids & Grief Program.
Hallmark Health System is the premier, charitable provider of vital health services to Boston's northern communities. The system includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford; Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose; Hallmark Health Cancer Center, Stoneham; The CHEM Center for MRI, Stoneham; Hallmark Health Medical Center, Reading; Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, Malden; Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing and Radiography Programs, Medford and Hallmark Health Medical Associates, Inc. Hallmark Health is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital for cardiology and Tufts Medical Center for neonatology.