Caring Hearts Children’s Program

Caring Hearts Children’s Program: Supporting children, youth and families facing the dying or death of a loved one

Do you know a child or youth who is grieving? We can help! 

Navigating grief when a significant person is dying or has died can be a difficult task for families. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, but children and youth often experience it differently than the adults in their lives. The Caring Hearts Children’s Program provides family-centered support by addressing the unique needs of children, youth and families anticipating a death and grieving after a loss.

  • Child/Teen Bereavement Groups: Peer support groups are offered in the fall and spring to any child or youth in Sarnia-Lambton who has experienced the death of a significant person, regardless of the cause of death. Groups are separated by age and provide developmentally appropriate child/youth-centered activities. Various modalities such as games, art and music are used in group to focus on topics such as changes, feelings, self-care, and memories. Groups provide psychoeducation on grief, coping strategies, memorizing activities, rituals and guided supportive sharing. They are facilitated by a trained professional and supported by our skilled volunteers. 
    • Children’s Groups (ages 6-9 and 10-13) are 6 weeks long. There is a requirement of a commitment to all 6 sessions from the participants and their caregivers.
    • Teen Groups (ages 14-17) are 8 weeks long. Teen groups are offered both at hospice, as well as directly within the high schools in Sarnia-Lambton (as requested by the school). 
  • Anticipatory Grief Support: This service is for children and youth who are experiencing the life-limiting illness of a loved one or a life-limiting illness themselves. Children are allotted up to six (6) sessions of anticipatory grief support. Sessions can be held individually or in groups (eg. siblings, cousins who share a loved one who is facing a life-limiting illness). These services are offered by a trained professional. Children/youth may engage in memorial/legacy activities, learn about illness and dying, talk about the changes and emotions related to the illness and what to expect in the illness/dying process and after (eg. Funeral preparation).
    Special arrangements for support can be made for children/youth whose significant person is living in the residence. 
  • Caregiver Psychoeducation: Caregivers can meet individually with the program coordinator to receive support and education on supporting their grieving child or youth between ages 0-18. 
  • Caregiving for a Grieving Child Group: is an educational group for any adult in Sarnia-Lambton who is supporting a child/youth grieving the death of a significant person. Each group is 6 weeks long and runs concurrently with the Caring Hearts Children’s Program ages 6-9 and 10-13 groups. Groups have a curriculum that focuses on grief responses of children and youth based on developmental stages, ways to support grieving children/youth, and ways to navigate caregivers’ own grief while supporting others. This group is facilitated in collaboration with the Adult Bereavement Program.
  • Kids’ Camp: An annual outdoor 5-day summer camp experience for children ages 6-13 grieving the death of a significant person. Kids’ camp is held at Canatara Park in Sarnia and is sponsored by the Kiwanas Club of Sarnia Lambton. This is an opportunity for children to take their grief outdoors and be supported by trained professionals as well as volunteers, while experiencing peer support in a day camp environment. 
  • Special Events are held throughout the year with children and their families to help memorialize and encourage a continuing bond with their significant person. These events are held prior to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Holiday season in December to help prepare children and their families for the upcoming holidays. Special Events include a family-focused memorializing activity, supportive sharing, rituals of remembrance and promote a sense of community in a child/family’s mourning.

Support for Caregivers of Bereaved Children

New virtual program to help resource and support parents and caregivers caring for a grieving child or youth.  Consists of 5-part education series of video recordings on the following topics:

  1. Grief 101
  2. Children’s Grief 101
  3. Mourning, Rituals and Continuing Bonds
  4. Understanding and Communicating with your Child
  5. Self-Care