child bereavement; child grief; FRIENDS WAY; bereavement centers; thanatology
Child grief and bereavement are widely misunderstood and under addressed, frequently disenfranchising children and teens. Child and family bereavement centers are a crucial resource. I wanted to know how these non-profit organizations benefit young grievers from their own perspective.
To strengthen my understanding, I volunteered at FRIENDS WAY in Warwick, Rhode Island for six months to learn more about bereaved children and families and to assess how it serves this client group. A program evaluation was then conducted. Survey questions asked the participants about the value of their experiences, and which specific activities they find most helpful and most enjoyable. Activities covered by the survey included reading books about death, creating artwork, playing board games, and talking in a group setting. The survey also asked general questions about their overall experience at FRIENDS WAY. Sixteen (N=16) children aged 9 to 13 from two peer-based support groups at FRIENDS WAY completed the survey. Participants were selected based on age and ability to answer the survey questions. The results provide a deeper understanding of how bereaved children ages 9 to 13 can receive the most valuable and beneficial support from bereavement centers like FRIENDS WAY.