Meet Amy

As Children’s Grief Awareness Week approaches we take a look at the work which Strathcarron Hospice’s Patient and Family Support Team does to support children and young people.

Since starting my work in the Patient and Family Support Team, one of the things I often say is that I am not a counsellor.

Whilst I have undertaken a COSCA counselling skills course and have a background in Psychology and Social Work it is emotional support which we offer to children and young people, providing a tailored approach to each individual and their family.

This involves providing the space and time for them to talk about their loved one and process their illness and death. We work through the feelings and emotions this brings up and how to manage these feelings effectively.

Crafts, games and activities are regularly employed to assist with this work and I am able to see young people in their homes, at school and in the hospice. I also regularly offer advice to parents in regards to telling a child or young person their loved one is unwell or is going to die, and provide emotional support as they do this. This includes advising parents on what is “normal” for children in terms of dealing with illness and loss and how they can support them on this journey. We can also provide relevant resources to assist with this.

Support also extends to teachers and other professionals in the young person’s life to provide wrap around support for each young person as required. Strathcarron families involved in our services are welcome to call into the team at any point pre- or post-bereavement for advice and support.

When supporting children and young people it is important to use clear and direct language as appropriate and be as honest as you can be with that young person about the situation. Children can react very individually to the death of a loved one and their age will also impact on their understanding of the permanence of death.

Children are likely to experience a whole range of emotions from anger, sadness, to acting normal and saying nothing at all and can jump quickly between these things – this is normal. Most children are very resilient and can surprise you by how much they already know or understand.

As well as providing one to one support for children and young people, the Education Department at Strathcarron also deliver workshops to local schools to help equip staff on supporting bereaved young children.