10 Years of Childhood Bereavement Counselling - East Cheshire Hospice

10 Years of Childhood Bereavement Counselling

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult, especially for children.

That is why East Cheshire Hospice set up a childhood bereavement service 10 years ago.

It helps those who have lost someone close, whether a parent, grandparent, brother or sister, friend or neighbour.

Children between 4 and 18 access the service, having suffered a bereavement in the previous three years, or having a close family member with a life-limiting illness. They do not need a link to the Hospice.

Sue Bower became the Hospice’s Children and Young People Bereavement Service Lead in January.

She said: “Children experience grief differently to adults. Their understanding develops as they get older. They may request support at different times.

“There’s a demand for our services. We don’t like to keep people waiting, so if we can’t see children quickly, we support carers with advice, or signpost them for different support.

“Counselling a child is different to an adult. Adults come with their agenda, they can have a lot more power and say over their lives, whereas a child doesn’t have that same control.”

Sue has vast experience of working with children, starting counselling training while managing a nursery for 13 years.

She has been at the Hospice for seven years, working with former colleagues Jane Burton and Lindsay Dobson, who established the service.

Sue Bower, Children and Young People Bereavement Service Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

Sue said: “We get referrals from schools, doctors, mental health organisations, the hospice, community networks and word of mouth. Carers can refer children.

“Children express feelings differently to adults. Counselling takes place in a safe space away from everything else and is done creatively, sometimes through storytelling, or play. Creative play helps young children use their imaginary world to process feelings. Young people feel at ease to talk.

“We can provide online and telephone support.

“It’s often not just mum and dad who are the secure attachment or ‘important person’ for a child. It could be a friend, or neighbour, who’s been like a grandma or auntie to them.

“If an ‘important person’ dies, it’s a big deal for a child to manage. Some cope well with help around them, but sometimes they just need our extra support.

“The family are often happier that children are being helped. They feel supported too.

Sue Bower, Children and Young People Bereavement Service Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

“Any loss has an incredible impact on life. It’s the ripple effect like a pebble dropping in the water. If everyone is in a little boat and you drop bereavement in, everyone gets bumped and knocked about in a different way.

“That experience stays with you it never goes away. In bereavement work, we’re always growing life around that loss which never goes away.

“It’s how we help children become resilient, preparing them for the next loss, because there’ll be more in our lives.

“Our lives present layers of loss and change. Carrying on without important people   is a massive thing for children to manage.

“The nature of therapeutic work is privacy and sensitivity, but our service is much appreciated and valued.”

* For more details call 01625 666994.

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