Cate Blanchett and Other Celebrities Share Their Stories as Deaths from COVID-19 and Other Causes Leave One in Five U.S. Children Mourning a Significant Loss
CONNECTICUT – Nov 19 2020 – (NGO Wire)
Experience Camps, a national nonprofit working to address childhood grief, today launched Talk About Grief (TAG), a campaign to help families cope with loss this holiday season. The campaign begins on Children’s Grief Awareness Day, a time designed to raise awareness of this serious issue and ensure that grieving children receive the support they need.
“Grief can be isolating, particularly for children,” said Sara Deren, CEO of Experience Camps. “COVID-19 is a bereavement multiplier, which has left more than two million grieving. Even in a more normal year, millions of people face an empty seat at their Thanksgiving table. By talking about grief, we can let children know they’re not alone. After more than 450,000 hours with grieving kids, our team can confidently report that connecting through our shared experiences helps us move through our grief.”
At least 2.1 million Americans are now grieving the death of a close relative due to COVID-19, in addition to the millions who are bereaved in a typical year. Grief, even in childhood, may be more common than many people realize. One in five children experience a significant death by age 18. 7.2 percent of American children face the death of a parent or sibling. Grieving children are especially vulnerable to a range of negative outcomes such as increased anxiety, depression, and risk of mortality from suicide and other factors, and fundamentally altered economic security — which research suggests is a particular risk for COVID-19 related deaths of a close relative.
Talk About Grief invites people to listen to stories of grief, share their own experiences, and “tag” others to show that they care. TAG includes a discussion guide, social media content with the hashtag #TalkAboutGrief, and videos from celebrities talking about their personal grief experiences. Notable voices that have shared their stories of grief include Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, multi-platinum singer and songwriter Andy Grammer, and former NFL Pro Bowler and America’s Got Talent finalist Jon Dorenbos conveying that people – particularly children – are not alone in their grief.
This holiday season, experts recommend talking about grief by simply inviting others to talk about the person who died. The best thing to do is simply to listen, allow for moments of silence, and don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing.
“When a child experiences the death of someone important in their lives, it can shake their confidence in the world – and replace the joys of childhood with guilt, anxiety, regret and a sense of isolation, “said Deren. “When kids talk about grief, it can foster a positive sense of self and a healthy concept of death and loss. Sharing their story with someone else lets them know they are not alone.”
“Parents have told us that their children’s mental health – and their own ─ is an even greater concern than their physical health during the pandemic. That insight helped inspire the Talk About Grief campaign,” said Brie Overton, Chief Clinical Officer, Experience Camps. “Some people worry that raising the topic of loss makes it worse. Actually, when we talk about grief, it can bring us together. 63% of the children we support said they have used their ‘grief skills’ to help others cope with the pandemic.”
“My son revisits grief at each developmental milestone, and we’ve found that the secret to surviving grief is to talk about it,” said Serra Falk Goldman, the mother of a child grieving the death of his father and sister. “Resilience is a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the stronger you get.”
Driven by Experience Camps, Talk About Grief campaign partners are promoting broad engagement. Listen First Project is promoting the TAG discussion guide, along with hundreds of partner organizations within the collaborative #WeavingCommunity campaign. The New York Life Foundation is supporting outreach to schools and partners nationwide. Thrive Global, OptionB.Org, The Shared Grief Project, Modern Loss, Lantern, Alex Cares and The Collective, also are supporting the TAG campaign.
While the need to Talk About Grief is ongoing, this year’s TAG campaign will culminate on December 4th, when Experience Camps will bring together the kids it serves for a virtual candle lighting ceremony, and encourage others to come together as a community, lighting a candle of hope during a season that holds both grief and light.
Details are available at www.experiencecamps.org/talkaboutgrief.
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About Experience Camps
Experience Camps is a national nonprofit working to foster a more grief-smart culture and raise awareness of childhood grief as an issue that deserves attention. Experience Camps provides no-fee, camp and other programs for kids who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver, and resources and advocacy to benefit many more. Since 2009, Experience Camps has empowered thousands of children with the confidence, skills and support to move forward with their lives.