Huntsville Caring House helps children deal with death - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville Caring House helps children deal with death

The Caring House in Huntsville helps children deal with death. (Source: WAFF) The Caring House in Huntsville helps children deal with death. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Dealing with end-of-life issues are tough enough for an adult but are even harder for a child. One place in Huntsville is working hard to help children through those issues.

The Caring House in Huntsville gives guidance to children who are experiencing loss and grief. It's an offshoot of Hospice with people who have very specific training.

"We try to teach the children what grief is,” said Lee Shaw, director of business development, “Can you be mad that your mom died?  Absolutely. Can you be mad that your sister died? Absolutely. But we need to learn what those feelings are and how to deal with them in a healthy way."

Shaw said children process grief differently.

"While there are similarities to adults, it is very different,” she said. “And many times our children are known as our forgotten mourners because they're young and resilient and smart and we just think that they will be fine if we don't talk about it."

One way to address it is to let children guide other children through the grief process. The Caring House has facilitators who guide the conversation if it starts going off, but it's really the children leading the other children, Shaw said.

There can sometimes be communication problems when dealing with small children. That's why creative play is so important, she said.

Shaw said they are sensitive to where the child is developmentally. They try to help the child understand what is going on and not feel abandoned by the person who died or confused by people wanting to express their condolences.

"One thing that we do is help them understand that death is final,” said Shaw.

There are specific methods for helping the child, like a punching bad or a pillow to scream in. Shaw said they try to teach them practical ways so they won't harm themselves, others or anyone's feelings to deal with that anger.

"We address anxiety, anger, sadness, eating disorders, sleeping problems,” she said.

Shaw said they are blessed with the support from Huntsville Hospital and the Foundation so they can have a free-standing facility.

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