Battling loss with magic
by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager
When I was a kid, Easter was right on up there as one of my favorite holidays. Everything was blooming, the days were starting to get longer, and my family was usually at the beach. And, just like Santa, the Easter Bunny always found us and left us treats — regardless of where we were. (How did he know?!)
Holidays aren’t the same for a child who has lost a parent or another close loved one. Because holidays are all about memories, aren’t they? You remember with vivid detail that special gift at Christmas when you were seven, and the look of pure delight on your parents’ faces as they watched you dance with joy. Or that year when you filled up four bags full of candy at Halloween (oh, the visions of eating chocolate until you were sick!), and then your mother confiscated it all and started parceling it out to you, 3 pieces at a time. Or, in my case, the year my father hid the same 12 Easter eggs over and over again for me and my sister because we were just having so much fun finding them. I don’t know how he had the patience to find new places each time, but he did, and we loved him for it.
I think some of the magic and joy of holidays are taken away from a child who loses a parent or relative. But luckily, there are advocates for children struggling with grief.
We have a grief counselor at Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, Beth Brittain, who managed to make Easter brighter for a few kids last week. Beth created an Easter egg hunt as part of her individual grief counseling sessions. As each child arrived, she told them that there were 18 eggs hidden outside, and then she watched them dash off, excitedly searching for their bounty.
After all 18 were found, they went inside and opened the eggs together. Some had candy, but others had pictures of facial expressions — among them sorrow, happiness, and anger. For each expression, Beth would share an experience when she felt that emotion strongly. She would ask the child to do the same. In this way, they were able to talk about different feelings as they relate to death. All of these kids were under the age of seven, yet they were able to express their grief and work just a little towards healing the huge gap that had opened up in their lives, the one that they didn’t ask for or deserve.
In the future, these children will have new memories to associate with the various holidays. But with Beth’s help, this was one Easter holiday that had both the joy of discovery and the gift of healing. And the magic of the Easter Bunny (who knew exactly where to find them) to boot.Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, awareness, grief, hospice comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.