It’s something we seldom discuss, but the loss of a child or grandchild is among the most tragic and painful events a parent can experience.
It doesn’t matter whether the child was 5 minutes or 50 years old — the loss is devastating. July is Worldwide Bereaved Parents Awareness Month. Make an effort this month to raise awareness about grief, depression, and coping.
- Visit the Association for Death Education and Counseling’s website to access their educational resources on grief to begin familiarizing yourself with grief and ways to help.
- Volunteer to provide refreshments for the attendees of a local grief support group meeting. Contact the Compassionate Friends, an organization that supports family members after a child dies, for information about groups in your area.
- If you already host support groups, make sure they are posted on your company’s website and listed in your local newspaper’s community meetings section.
- Hospice agencies, distribute a newsletter focused on grief to the family members of your patients.
- Host a class on understanding depression at a local library. Distribute additional information to attendees and be sure your agency’s name and contact information is prominently displayed.
- Put together a handout on how to help someone who is grieving. This should include simple things to say and do. Distribute it to your community-based referral sources. Find materials to get started at the websites of Bereaved Parents of the USA, AARP, and helpguide.org.
- In memory of those children (including adult children) and grandchildren who have passed, host a balloon or butterfly release in your community. (Note: Butterflies are much more environmentally friendly.) Spread the word at area churches, senior centers and libraries, and don’t forget to alert the media. The event can include a short program that includes acknowledging the loss. Provide plenty of tissues, refreshments and care. You can invite other non-competing providers to participate as well.
- Hospice companies, drop in to reconnect with referral sources and remind them of the support services available to your patients' loved ones for an extended period after the patient has died. Leave behind a flyer with the schedule of your upcoming grief support meetings.