Program offers help to grieving children and their parents

Sherry Martell
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TRURO - Heartbroken and alone Sherri Stevenson agonized how she would move forward in life following the loss of her first husband.

Coping with the raw and wildly fluctuating emotions of her four-year-old son Canaan, who had just lost the father he adored, further compounded her grief.

"We definitely needed some help to get through the grief," said Stevenson, a resident of Debert.

About two years ago her husband Barry lost a battle with Leukemia at the young age of 35. Even surrounded by a loving and supportive church community dealing with the tragic life altering change, which had made her into a young widowed mother, was difficult to cope with.

It wasn't until she discovered the healing powers of Path of the Firefly program that the pair overcame their shared grief.

The workshop is offered annually by Bailey's Hope Society and is being co-produced in Truro by the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society. It is aimed at helping parents and guardians explore aspects of how children grieve and how grief can impact the family.

Parents are given tools to assist them in supporting their children while dealing with their own grief.

"I didn't really know what to anticipate," Stevenson said about the workshop. "I thought I was going to find ways to help Canaan but it was a healing experience for me too."

During the workshop participants are encouraged to share their experiences, learn from each other, and build a network of support with others.

Stevenson said she made lifelong friends while participating in the program.

"I'd never gone through anything like this before and it helped me to better understand his (Canaan's) grief," she said.

"He had lost a parent and I had lost a spouse and although we were dealing with the loss of the same person our feelings were very different."

Parents with grieving children from around the province will meet in Truro on Feb. 27 and March 6 to participate in a free two-day Path of the Firefly workshop.

Vince MacDonald, a certified grief counselor with extensive experience working with families, will facilitate the program.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact the Hospice Society early at 902-893-3265 to register for the workshop, as space is limited.

In May the Hospice will be holding a workshop for counselors, teachers, volunteers and others working with children who are grieving to provide tools for supporting grieving children from outside of the family.

Bailey's Hope Society and the Hospice Society are both registered charities providing a wide range of programs to support those families living with life-threatening illness or those grieving the death of a loved one.

Organizations: Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, Bailey's, Hope Society

Geographic location: TRURO, Debert

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Recent comments

  • s
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I lost my father at the age of 9 and I wish there was support like this back then it may have made growing up with out him easier. Cudos to these wonderful people!

  • S
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    What a wonderful programme. When I became a widow at 29, nearly 38 years ago, there was no support -- Other women, who should have been my greatest allies, shunned me at a time when I dearly needed someone. Thanks heavens I had and have a wonderful family who supported me in my grief both financially, psychologically, and spiritually. SMc