A child’s family is their whole world. When a parent dies, their world collapses. They commonly start asking themselves questions like: “How will I live now? Maybe I am guilty? How did this happen? Will I die too?
The death of a parent raises a number of questions that the child cannot always get an answer to, even though they most desperately need to in those moments. Adults also need support in these situations, now left to care or all daily concerns and experiences with the child. In Estonia, as well as other countries, these families are offered help – grief counseling programs for children and parents. Children can participate in grief counseling at these specially made camps and parents are given a chance to discuss their pain and concerns, as well as meet with an exert-led support group. These camps are held regularly throughout the year and are found to be highly effective in helping grieving children and their parents.
Camps give children the opportunity to share their experiences, to work through their grief in a safe environment, to be supported by peers, to learn self-help skills, to become internally stronger, to grow more self-confident and to just be able to be happy.
We have now extended this experience to Latvians because we want our children to have access to effective help. The first camp for grieving children was implemented successfully by SOS Children’s Villages Association team in 2014 and run also in 2015 and 2016.
“In the morning we mourn, but in the evening we have fun!”
Developing and preparation stages of our camp:
Identifying children who need support;
Interviewing (by phone or in person) with the child and the person caring for the child in order to assess the child’s well-being and to determine whether the camp is the best form of assistance, this also allows us to inform the camp of the child’s progress;
The camp runs children’s support groups under the guidance of specially trained professionals, as well as providing interesting lessons and workshops the rest of the time;
All culminating in a camp evaluation, with recommendations for further individual assistance.
Children can participate in camp if:
They are between the ages of 7 and 18 years (maximum 24 children per session)
They have lost a loved one from half a year to 2 years prior to the start of camp.