Helping your child grieve is one of the toughest things you can do. Dr. Gloria Horsley interviews Judy Rooney about this difficult strategy. She works with the Willow Center, a peer support program that offers free support groups for kids and the adults caring for them. They also offer Camp Erin for grieving teens and kids. Rooney facilitates the parent group, and finds that the biggest challenge is simply how to help their child. As an adult, you need to help yourself first, and that makes you better able to help your children.
Getting men to group is even harder. They grieve differently than women, and the center needs to cater to how men grieve. They tend to be more of a doer when compared to women. They want to build, to do, to be physical, and to move in order to solve problems. In many ways, this requires creativity. How can you meet that need while still helping them to help their children? Throwing a ball and playing catch can help you connect on a male basis with a child.
Women often think men should be grieving “like them,” which is via talking and showing emotions. Just because it’s not outward doesn’t mean it’s not real. Women grieve face to face while men grieve shoulder to shoulder. The Willow Center operates in a rural area, helping to connect experts, teens, adults, and families who are involved in the grieving process. However, there are organizations around the country that can help you and your child through this difficult time.
Grief is unique to everyone, and there’s no one right way to grieve. This can be tough to realize. However, with proper support, anyone can move onto a healthy healing path. The Willow Center is based in Idaho and works with families throughout the region.