WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Coping with the loss of a loved one is always hard but it’s especially difficult around the holidays.
That’s why the third Thursday in November – a week before Thanksgiving – has been designated Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
The day was created in 2008 by Highmark Caring Place to recognize the hardships kids face after losing a parent or sibling.
On Nov. 21, organizations around the country worked to raise awareness for children’s grief.
Many professionals believe the right support can make all the difference.
Friends Way in Warwick is a Lifespan program that offers free dinner and courses for kids and their families several times a month.
“Everybody grieves differently,” program director Ryan Loiselle said. “It gives each of them a different avenue and different techniques for them to express themselves.”
Friends Way assists hundreds of children ages 3-18 through group sessions and activities among peers going through the same thing.
Loiselle said if left untreated, grief in kids can have long-term effects.
“We see a lot of kids developing depression, anxiety, and self-harming behaviors,” he said.
More than 1,300 kids in Rhode Island are dealing with the loss of a parent or sibling. Many show no outward signs but struggle internally and communication can be the doorway to healing.
“Truth-telling is so important,” Loiselle added. “So many families are facing a death due to an overdose or a suicide. More often than not, depending on the child’s age, a parent may shield the child from the whole truth.”