‘Mind yourself so you can mind me’…….. This was the message from bereaved children to adults at the launch of the ‘Mind The Gap’ creative project for Bereaved Children’s Awareness Week at the Mansion House Dublin today (Thursday 21 November). Children handle grief better when the adults around them get support to deal with their own grief.
Every November, the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN) organises a series of events during the week of Universal Children’s Day to highlight bereaved children’s needs across Ireland and to ensure their voice is heard.
Today’s event, in collaboration with Barnardos Children’s Bereavement Service, saw 12 children express their experience of grief through different creative projects including drawings and paintings as well as short stories.
Barnardos Children’s Bereavement Service is a family support service for children and their families who have experienced the death of someone close to them. They work directly with children and their families across Ireland to help them increase their capacity to support the child through the grieving process and to develop their own resilience.
Speaking today, Gina Cantillon, Project Leader with the Barnardos Children’s Bereavement Service said: “Today’s event is entitled Mind The Gap; mind yourself so you can mind me. This is the central message that the young people we work with want the adults and carers in their lives to understand – grief happens to a family, to a wider network of friends and relations, to a community, and therefore grief needs to be held and supported within those same systems that have been rocked by the loss of someone so dear. We all need to attend to, be gentle with and mind the gaps in our own hearts and in our own lives so that we can then find the resilience we need to also support our children in their grief journey.”
Speaking at today’s event, Chairperson of the ICBN, Bríd Carroll said, “Bereaved Children’s Awareness Week is where we heighten awareness of the children who have lost parents, siblings, grandparents, close family members and friends not just in the past year but over the years. It is a week to highlight their needs both nationally and locally in our communities so that adults can remember that when death occurs in a family that ‘Children Grieve Too’”.
“This is the time of year when the evenings get darker and bereaved people withdraw to reflect on those who will be missing at Christmas time. It is the time when grief and loss and its meaning can be to the fore. It is therefore opportune for involving the children who have suffered loss in our communities and not leaving them as the “forgotten mourners” as they often were in the past in Ireland.”
The ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study reveals that 2.2% of nine-year olds had lost a parent; 1% a sibling; and 28% had experienced the death of a grandparent. It is estimated that 4-5% of young people lose a parent by the age of 18.
The ICBN was founded in 2012 as a hub for those working with bereaved children, young people and their families. It is funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation and Túsla and supports professionals to deliver high quality accessible bereavement support; signposts families and carers to information and bereavement supports and informs the general public regarding issues involved in childhood loss.
For more information, visit www.childhoodbereavement.ie