I was invited to the 2018 Grief Conference as part of my continuing education as a grief counselor. This has been my dream career for the longest time, and I am so lucky to be working as a school counselor for the past three years in a private institution. The conference was about “All Life Long: Empowerment throughout the Grief Journey,” and the hosts, Ryan’s Place of Goshen and the Goshen College Social Work Education Program, have given discounts on the fee. It was 50% off for students, and at that time, I was a working student.
It was in the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model that the state of Indiana is one of the highest places where children are feeling bereaved. To be precise, Indiana places 12th in terms of bereaved children. By the time they hit 18 years old, children below 12 years of age in Indiana will face death. It can either be the death of a loved one like a parent, grandparent, sibling or a close relative, or a friend.
This is something that a child should not experience, at such a tender age, but this is life. It happens, and as a counselor, I have to be ready so that I can assist that bereaved child. I have to be equipped since a child is very fragile at this moment of his or her life. Nobody should ever feel painful grief, but then it is inevitable. Because of this, there are effective ways to help a bereaved child, and I know how to do it.
Aileac Deegan was one of Ryan’s Place’s (the host) directors, and I could not forget the impact of the words uttered, not in verbatim but meaning, “This seminar is an important event that lets people of this great community sit together and learn how to help those who are in grief. We all want to help people who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones, especially little children and their families. It is perfectly normal to grieve, and we must be there, as professionals or specialists in this field, to guide them through the process in a healthy manner.”
The event was explicitly recommended for educators, counselors, social workers, and those professionals whose career is to be alongside young children. This is the reason why I was there. And to also broaden my knowledge in counseling grief-stricken children. I know the feeling for I was once there. It was my motivating factor of why I am a counselor now.
My grandfather died when I was thirteen, and I was very close to him since he raised me. It shattered my world at that time because we spent almost all of my waking hours together. He was my ball buddy, movie mate, and sous chef. I loved him so much that it was practically unbearable to lose him.
Then I met with a counselor, and she supported me with all my pains and the sufferings I had to endure. She is even my mentor now that I am a professional.
Children will never forget about their painful experiences. Believe me. This is why if they have a grief issue, it has to be addressed right away. If their grief becomes complicated, it will lead to a severe mental health issue. This is something that we all want to avoid.
The goal is to grieve healthily.