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Going Blue for National Children's Grief Awareness Day

No child should feel alone in a time of grieving — It's that belief that drives National Children’s Grief Awareness Day Thursday.

On Thursday Terse Vorsheck, director of the Highmark Caring Place, asks that everyone show their support by wearing blue, and by visiting the downtown facility to spread a message of hope on the Caring Place Memory Wall. 

“The purpose being is to let children know that we are here, we’re here to support them — we are aware they are hurting and we’re kind of standing with them on this day,” said Vorsheck.

Not very long ago the common understanding of children’s grief was that they experienced none. It was believed that in their resilience, they went through a difficult time and then went on with their lives, finishing that chapter.

Yet a recent study shows the opposite to be true — children do grieve just as strongly as adults do, and in some cases have even more complicated grief than adults.

“When a child losses a family member it turns their life upside down. And a lot of people don’t realize that these children are struggling and they [will] struggle for quite a long time actually, so the purpose of Children Grieving Awareness Day is to help raise awareness of that impact.” said Vorsheck.

The international awareness day created in 2008, by the Caring Place, is observed the third Thursday in November. Vorsheck says the group intentionally selected the date.

“The holidays are a particularly difficult time for anyone who is grieving and particularly for children — it’s hard to face those holiday traditions without the person that you love,” said Vorsheck.

The organization has four facilities across Pennsylvania where volunteers and staff  bring together families who have lost love ones and provide them with peer support groups, for both children and families.

The goal is to create a safe, private place for children to freely express themselves with other children who understand.

Vorsheck knows the many difficulties grieving children face when searching for understanding and urges loved ones in their lives to assistance them in seeking help.

“What are the perfect words, and there really are none. There are no perfect words that will heal their broken heart,” said Vorsheck. “And the most important thing we can do is to let them talk, and be a good listener. Let them share memories of that person who died, let them talk about how they are feeling and most importantly don’t expect them to just get over it.”