The latest National Alliance for Grieving Children conference brought together Alexis Sandagato and Dr. Heidi Horsley. Sandagato is a teenager who’s a junior in high school and doing a three-year research project on the impacts of parental death and how that affects children. She lost her father when she was two years old, and has spent her childhood without her father. What helped her heal was having a supportive family and professional help. If you feel you need it, don’t be afraid of what anyone else will say or think.
Children need support, and to know that other kids have been through it. Go to a teacher, friend, trusted adult, or anyone you feel will support you in a healthy way. Two of Sandagato’s close friends have also lost their fathers. Those friendships are very helpful, normalizing the situation and providing support nobody else can offer. It’s not always easy, but by identifying your own support network, you can regain control over the situation.
Hard Losses at Any Age
There’s no easy age to lose a parent, whether you’re a young child or an adult. Sandagato is passionate about the research behind bereavement and helping other children and teens who have lost a parent. By seeking out support in various ways for many years, she has learned what works best for her, how to ask for help, and that there will be some trial and error when looking for a supportive group.
Now, Sandagato is preparing for college and considering the bereavement prospects in academe. Dr. Horsley was once in a similar situation, losing her brother in a car accident while she was in college. The bereavement field is growing, and with passion-driven students like Sandagato, it will only continue to improve.