One in every five children will experience the death of a loved one by age 18, according to the journal OMEGA.
To raise awareness of the toll that death takes on children, Highmark Caring Place is hosting “Children’s Grief Awareness Day” Nov. 18 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wexford Health and Wellness Pavilion in Wexford.
At 7:00 p.m., attendees will be invited to write personal messages on luminaria bags—over 5,000 of which will be illuminated in the shape of a butterfly.
Highmark Caring Place Executive Director Terese Vorsheck said that children have added difficulties dealing with grief.
“[Children] don’t have all the developed coping mechanisms that adults have,” Vorsheck said.
She said that children come “in and out of grief,” meaning that while an adult may always be stricken with grief, children can sometimes appear to have gotten over the grief.
“A lot of times people will misinterpret that as children being resilient and bouncing back quickly,” Vorsheck said. “It’s not that, it’s that they can only stay with the grief for a very short period of time.”
She added that grief can sometimes reemerge during important moments in a young adult’s life, as their lost loved one cannot experience the moment with them.
Regardless, it is important for a child to remember their lost loved one, Vorsheck said.
“So often we’re so afraid of making children cry or upsetting them, so we try to protect them by not mentioning their loved one who has died,” she said. “In fact, the kids need that opportunity to remember because the memories are really what they have left of their loved one and what they hold on to.”
Some of the events include a face painting, an art show, and a musical performance by the Golden Rolling Strings. All are invited to attend, and refreshments will be served.