CHILD BEREAVEMENT FOLLOWING PARENTAL LOSSFINAL YEAR PROJECT
Children from the age of 5 are able to understand death. They have the ability to grieve but may sometimes choose to suppress this emotion to protect the adults around them to reduce the already overwhelming emotional loss in the family. This lack of grieving often leads to denying the child a proper grieving outlet.
While counselling services and therapy are readily available for when children need support, it is not a viable option for everyone. For children who are not willing to open up to strangers, communication can come to a standstill, making progress impossible. Recognising that talk-based counselling is not for everyone, alternative help like play therapy which uses symbolic form to help children come to terms with their experience also prevails. This form of therapy, however, still requires the presence of a stranger which deters children who are uncomfortable from opening up freely and may thus be time-consuming.
From interviews conducted on adults who were bereaved as a child, it has been found that many did not attend counselling or therapy with reasons cited being that they didn't want to talk to people about it. This reluctance to speak to people about it denies the child the opportunity to externalize their emotions which can sometimes lead to depression and to the child using less adaptive mechanism, such as denial, to get over the tough time.
By creating a toolkit that uses the modality of play therapy to encourage the child to express their emotions in their own private space and fulfil the tasks a child needs to mourn a loss; we help children who are not comfortable in talking to people about their problem to still have an outlet to express themselves and grieve, therefore preventing the carrying of unresolved complications into the future.