Each “group” of families at The Children’s Room is really several smaller groups for much of each meeting. Family members split into smaller groups by age. Typically, there is a 3½-5 year old group, an elementary aged group, and a tween/teen group. Adults have their own group. Each smaller grouping is facilitated by two or more trained volunteers.
Children and teens typically start with an opening circle in which they share their names and introduce who in their family has died. Often there will be an activity or discussion related to some aspect of the grief experience. Facilitators utilize creative methods including art, music, play, and poetry to encourage grief expression, memory sharing, feelings exploration, and self-care. Verbal sharing is often part of our groups, however it is always optional and we never pressure children to speak.
While your children participate in their group, we offer a simultaneous peer support group for the adults. Facilitated by trained volunteers, this group has multiple aims. In the parent group, we hope to provide a safe space in which parents/caregivers can find peer support around the challenges of parenting grieving children and teens and around their own experiences of grief. The adult group can also be a venue in which to share information about developmental issues among grieving children and teens to parents/caregivers. Facilitators work together with the adult participants to create an environment that is welcoming to the range of perspectives, feelings, needs, and experiences members may bring.
At the end of every group meeting, adults and kids come together to close the group in a big circle. This is a time when the group’s staff coordinator may make announcements, and when we recognize several special occasions including anniversaries of your loved one’s death and birthdays of children and teens in groups. During this time we also welcome new families and volunteers and say goodbye to families or volunteers who are leaving.