When a loved one has died, most days are filled with the memories of what life was like before, but the holidays bring a special emphasis on family and tradition, and that can make remembering more difficult and sometimes overwhelming for grieving children and families.
It is hard to think about gifts and fun and the holidays when there is an empty seat at the table.
John is an articulate, easy-going, young man. At first glance, you would never know the heartache he endures. John and his grandfather, Bill, are among the families attending Good Grief programs. When he was 7, John's father died from complications related to diabetes. This August, his mother and sister were in a deadly roll-over car accident. His mother did not survive, and his sister was critically injured. At 13, John faces each day with the reality that his parents are gone.
Distracted at school, he has a hard time completing work and following through on tasks. He tells himself, "Do it for Mom. She would want me to do well in school." But that isn't easy for a teenager who is coping with multiple deaths, and feelings he thinks no one understands.
Kids like John are the reason we started Good Grief. Feeling understood is one of the most valuable benefits of peer support groups. When asked what helps the most, our group members say:
- Knowing I'm not alone.
- Hearing other people go through my same struggles.
- Listening to others.
A contribution to Good Grief provides the opportunity to come together, to share, listen, and connect with peers who are grieving. That matters to John, and to others like him in our community.
If you know of a family facing the new year with an empty seat at their table, please consider sharing information about Good Grief with them. Whether the loss was recent, or years ago, peer support groups can make a difference. It's never too late.