Unique Program Supports Children through Grief

Social worker, Shizuko Boga, stands in front of crafts used to help grieving children express grief
by SalvationArmy.ca
Categories: Articles, Blog, Feature, Mobile

Grief is a family affair and sometimes children don’t have the opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts and questions. At The Salvation Army’s Agapé Hospice in Calgary, an on-site children’s grief support program, Elephant Club, helps children up to age 13 feel safe, welcomed and less isolated.

“Elephant Club is a unique program in the community that is part of hospice care,” says Shizuko Boga, social worker. “Elephants have big ears to listen and are a great symbol for grieving children who yearn to be heard.”

Through crafts and activities, Bogo helps grieving children to express their feelings and thoughts, understand illness and trust adults. She also provides one-on-one support, brochures and resources for parents that include how to recognize that your child is grieving, starting the conversation about death and dying, clearing up misunderstandings and questions, listening for clues and how involved a child should be when someone is ill.

“Adults often don’t know how to speak to children about illness, death and dying,” says Boga. “Explaining serious health issues of a family member or friend to a child or youth can be overwhelming. However, children can sense when something is wrong.

“Children grieve too, maybe just in a different way,” continues Boga. “We want to provide opportunities for them to express their grief and be better understood.”