Dealing with grief in a good way

Guardian Angels' School, Wynnum

Guidance Councillor Cintia May with participants in the Seasons for Growth program at  Guardian Angels'​​

GRIEF from losing a parent is not something easily overcome.

Especially if you're a primary school student.

However, at Guardian Angels' School, Wynnum, a program is helping students who had lost one or more parent or guardian to cope with grief in a good way.

Guidance Councillor Cintia May, said the Seasons for Growth program offered children and young people a safe space to come together and share their experiences of loss.

Cintia said a traumatic life event, such as the loss of a loved one, could have significant ongoing psychological consequences for individuals - particularly children. 

“The wonderful thing about the Seasons for Growth program was that it allowed students to talk about their feelings of grief and loss in a safe, supportive and caring environment surrounded by other students who had also experienced similar feelings. 

“There is great healing power in a student knowing that they are not the only ones to have experienced such emotional pain - that they are not alone in their feelings.

“The Seasons for Growth program allows children to face sad feelings in a most gentle way," she said. 

Seasons for Growth, part of the Good Grief program founded by the Sisters of St Joseph in the mid-1990s, recognised a need within the community to provide a high-quality, evidence-based Australian education program to support children and young people who were struggling with experiences of change, loss and grief.

The program offered a safe and engaging curriculum structure that incorporated a wide range of age-appropriate activities involving drawing, role-play, stories, discussion, playdough, music and journal activities.

There are four different levels of the program.

Each level included eight weekly sessions, a final celebration session and two subsequent reconnector sessions, which ranged from 40 minutes to an hour depending on age.

Each weekly session explored a concept theme such as, Life is like the Seasons; Change is Part of Life; Valuing My Story; Caring for my Feelings; and Making Good Choices.

All four levels of the program had flexibility to cater for participants with different learning needs or preferences.

The learning processes reflected a deep respect for children's capacity to cope, problem-solve, make good choices, set realistic goals and connect with others.

The program found that such learning developed best in supportive social contexts with peers and a caring, skilled adult “companion".

The participant's insights were documented in a personal 'Seasons for Growth' journal so they could re-visit them in the future.

Cintia said the students loved being part of the program.

“They each have their own favourite season and dressed appropriately for that season when they met up during the year.

“It also helps them build understanding of their grief while improving their emotional wellbeing so they can express their views/feelings better," she said.

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