North Central News

Helping children deal with grief

Judy Laufer recalls exactly when the idea for her children’s book, “Where Did Papa Go?” was born. It was on a plane ride home after attending her father’s funeral.

“My 5-year-old niece at the time was having difficulty accepting her grandfather’s death,” Laufer explains. “I was a kindergarten teacher and looked for books to help her and talk about how she was feeling. The only books I could find at the time were books about pets dying, and that just wasn’t the same.”

Children’s author and Valley resident Judy Laufer signs a copy of one of her books for a little fan (submitted photo).

Children’s author and Valley resident Judy Laufer signs a copy of one of her books for a little fan (submitted photo).

“Where Did Papa Go?” is a young girl’s poetic musing on the death of her grandfather. Through this story, children will be able to appreciate and ponder not only the mysteries of death that puzzle the little girl but the practical considerations of death that she raises as well: “It’s strange I can’t see him, but I feel him inside. I want to yell, ‘Come out, you don’t need to hide.’” The book is geared toward children ages 3-7.

“My hope is that this book provides parents and anyone working with young children a platform for discussion,” Laufer says, adding that the message in the book is “even though the person dies, the memories live on.”

The book is available from the publisher at www.littleeggpublishing.com ($14.95 plus tax and shipping). You also can order it from Amazon.com, or request it from your local bookstore.

Sooner or later, everyone has to deal with the death of someone they loved. In a child’s world, the death of a close relative, a teacher, or even a schoolmate can be shattering. There are other resources that local families can turn to in order to help children in their time of loss.

The New Song Center for Grieving Children, part of Hospice of the Valley, provides support for grieving children, teens, young adults and their families. All support groups are free of charge.

A new group, Enduring Ties, serves children grieving the loss of a sibling and is open to children ages 4 and older. Groups meet 6-8 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of the month at Hospice of the Valley, Building 2, 1510 E. Flower St. Families must schedule an orientation before participating.

Other grief support groups led by trained volunteer facilitators are at All Saints Lutheran Church, 15649 N. 7th St., every-other week on Monday and Thursday evenings. There is a support group for youth ages 5-17; pre-registration is required.

For more information, call 480-951-8985 or visit www.hov.org, click on “Our Care” and then “Grief Support.”

There also are overnight, weekend and summer camps available specifically for children and teens who are dealing with grief and loss, offered by Stepping Stones of Hope. There are camps available for kids age 6-17 as well as specific teen camps for youth ages 13-18.

During camp programs, children are divided into age appropriate groups and transitioned through a variety of skills-based activities. Who died and how the loved one died are also factors considered in placement, along with the best possible fit for each child. Camp topics are presented in a variety of ways including small group discussions, role-play, music, humor, and art.

Partial scholarships are available upon request. For more information, call 602-264-7520 or visit www.SteppingStonesofHope.org.

 

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