The Help Us Understand Grief (H.U.U.G) Program provides short term supports and counselling to children, youth, and families living with serious illness, dying, death, and grief. Like all of our services, HUUG is available to families at no cost.
The Norfolk Haldimand Community Hospice recognizes supporting children and youth through t grief is essential in their growth and development. By providing programming that helps children and youth be seen, heard and supported in their grief journey as well as fostering a sense of belonging, it is our goal that children not only survive the death of a loved one but also thrive with heathy life-long coping skills.
The Norfolk Haldimand Community Hospice is a proud facilitator of the successful and well established H.U.UG –“ Help Us Understand Grief” children’s program. Through one-to-one support, grief kits, monthly workshops, bereavement day camps, education and resources, opportunities are provided for grieving children, youth and families to be supported, support one another and remember the life of the loved one who has died.
For more information. please feel welcome to contact us at: 905-746-3832
The greatest gift you can give your children is not protection from change, loss, pain or stress, but the confidence and tools to cope with all that life has to offer them. - Dr. Wendy Harpham
Talking to children about loss, dying and death.
Be open and honest using simple and direct language.
Avoid euphemism’s like “Grandma’s gone to sleep” or “We lost Dad”. This just causes fear and confusion in children.
Let them ask questions. Short concise answers are best. If you don’t have all the answers that’s ok too. Children will appreciate that you are trying.
Help them to understand and express their natural feelings of grief. Sharing your own feelings of grief will help them to know its ok to share theirs.
We don’t need to wait till dying or death occurs to have teachable moments. The seasons of nature offer many everyday opportunities to explain the life cycle.
When you’re willing to discuss difficult topics, your children learn that:
Hard conversations can happen safely.
They’re a valued member of the family.
They can talk with you about life’s most challenging experiences
For more information on the benefits of facilitating early and honest conversations with grieving children,
please visit: www.kidsgrief.ca
Books and Resourses for Children & Youth
Books for Children
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
This book addresses children’s feelings and questions about death in a simple, realistic way to help them understand that death is a natural part of life and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have after a loved one’s death.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
Offers a compassionate explanation of death, dying, and coping with grief and loss in simple language for young kids and families. This book also discusses the more difficult subjects of suicide, war, prejudice and poverty, and explains death rituals from several different cultures.
Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Brian Mellonie and Robert Ingpen
This book illustrates how the living and dying of people is a natural process, like that of all living things. The book also discusses the life cycle of various plants and animals as well as humans, in simple and direct language.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
This book is a simple approach to overcome the fear of loneliness or separation from those we love whether by distance or death. We are all connected by a very special string made of love and even though you may not be able to see it, you can feel it deep in your heart.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis
Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn't going to get better. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him.
The Next Place by Warren Hanson
This is a book that explores where people go when they leave ‘this place.’ It presents a beautiful and hopeful view of where people go when they die without prescribing any one spiritual view other than the imagination that the next place is wonderful.
Books for Youth
The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman
After the sudden death of his father, Finn slowly turns invisible. As time goes on, Finn finds that his “invisibility” might not be as permanent and inevitable as he might believe it to be.
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting. Suzy crafts a plan to prove her theory, even if it means traveling the globe alone.
Harvey by Hervé Bouchard
A graphic novel about a young boy’s reaction to his father’s death. Harvey and his little brother are playing when they learn that their father has died of a heart attack. Everything changes, and Harvey finds himself disappearing.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome and is coping with the death of her brother in a school shooting. She reaches out past her own family’s tragedy to help others as she helps herself
Kids Help Phone – visit kidshelpphone.ca, call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868 24-hour, anonymous, and confidential phone counselling.
You can live chat with a Kids Help Phone counsellor online, or from your mobile through the free Always There app.
Apart of Me – apartofme.app
This game is designed to help you find wisdom and strength to help you cope with the death of a loved one. It is freely available on the iOS App Store and Google Play.
Please speak with your H.U.U.G. Counsellor if you need help accessing any of these resources.
1 in every 50 children in Ontario are bereaved. This is the story of one of those children.
This is the story of Kara.
Like all the other children 10-year-old Kara arrived at camp around 8:30 a.m. Unlike the other participants Kara stood in the parking lot not wanting to come in.
"Camp? Really? Where are the canoes and horses and volley ball nets? This isn’t camp!” Kara scowled.
But this was camp. It was camp for children who had experienced the death of a loved one. Kara knew what she was coming to, yet upon arriving she wanted nothing to do with the day whatsoever. Who would? Coming to a day camp with a group of adults she didn’t know and a bunch of kids she also didn’t know, to talk about the death of her dad, of course she protested. Talking about dying, death, loss, and our feelings are difficult and uncomfortable conversations for both children and adults.
It took about 15 minutes of encouraging and bribery before Kara would walk through the doors of camp day. (Yes, we used pizza at lunch to negotiate her staying.) Kara sat with her hoodie draped low over her eyes, her arms folded in protest and only looked up to glare at me with absolute discontent. By now it was about 9 a.m. As with all camp days we began with our graffiti wall, where children write their names and draw a few things about themselves. That ice breaker did not warm Kara up in any way whatsoever, but by just 10:15 we hit magic.! During one of the grief activities, a 4-year- old girl in the group struggled with her scissors. Kara moved over, and without a word, sat down beside her and helped the little girl. The 4-year-old looked up at Kara and said. “Did your Daddy die too?”
Kara nodded. At that moment the little girl stood up and wrapped her arms around Kara, hugging her tight and whispering to her ”It’s ok to be sad, it’s a sad thing”.
Kara stayed at camp that day. She participated, shared and 2 years later and came back as a peer helper. Dying, death, loss , and grief are very sad things. A heart that loves cannot help but feel deeply in the experience of loss. Honest conversations about how we feel are what the heart craves to heal. Sharing feelings can be frightening, intimidating and at the very least uncomfortable. Having a safe space to do so helps. The Norfolk Haldimand Community Hospice is here to create a safe, nonjudgmental, inclusive, and compassionate space for children and teens to be open, honest and to walk towards healing.
Psychosocial/Spiritual/Bereavement Care Provider