The loss of a child can be one of the most difficult times in a family's life.
Bereavement is a complex state, one in which many people find that they may need emotional, practical and/or financial support. Everyone may cope differently, for example some people may withdraw from their friends and family while others may rely on outside support available to them. It's important to recognise that there is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a child.
Family, friends, and trained professionals may all be able to offer certain types of support at this time. As such, CCA has a variety of services available to families to assist them with the grieving process.
The loss of a child can leave families in need of financial assistance, particularly in regards to the unexpected costs of a funeral; we are able offer some financial assistance to help with this. This is organised through your WCH Social Worker.
Whether it comes from relatives, friends or a trained professional, most bereaved people need emotional support following the death of a loved one. Very often bereavement counselling is recommended, as it allows the bereaved to explore and describe his or her thoughts and feelings to an objective audience – the counsellor or support group. Counselling is a safe place to take the often strong emotions associated with grief. Family and friends may also be able to provide important emotional support, however they may not always be able to assist with emotional exploration, and they may not be able to remain as objective as a bereavement counsellor or members of a bereavement support group can.
Grief Counselling – Children
Children are usually not able to verbalise their grief as an adult would, and their understanding of loss and grief are usually not as sophisticated, this, however, does not mean that children do not experience grief. Instead, watching children's actions can often reveal a great deal about their emotions. Some children may become destructive, others may be withdrawn. Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits or concentration/work levels can also be signs of grief. Grieving children may also be more/less emotional than usual, want to talk/not talk about the deceased or continue on as if nothing has happened.
Though they may not show it in the same way, children may grieve just as intensely as adults when they suffer the loss of their brother or sister. There are ways that adults can help children cope with grief, and counselling for children may be an option.
Counselling is offered to all family members including extended family. If you are in a regional or interstate location, we can organise counselling via phone or Skype. Counselling is conducted by our Family Service team Denise Ellis (Counsellor), Anna Boynton (Senior Counsellor/Psychologist) and Kate Travers (Social Worker).
For further information please refer to our Counselling page.
Bradley's Place, CCA's respite accommodation, continues to be available to families who have lost a child to cancer, providing an important space for the family to take time out and be together. It can be particularly beneficial to stay here during important dates and anniversaries/memorials.
For further information please refer to the Respite Accommodation page.
CCA has a range of support groups available to families to assist them with the grieving process.
GSE (Great Sibling Escape)
Children, just like adults, do not respond to death and the loss of their sibling in one way. Some of the most common grief reactions in children include: anxiety, vivid memories, sleep difficulties, sadness and longing, anger and acting out, guilt/feeling they are somehow to blame, regressive behaviour, problems at school and even physical complaints.
The changes as a result of the loss of a loved one are immense for both adults and children, and it's important for children to have support to help them adapt to life without their brother or sister. Children have a great capacity for coping with life-changing situations if the 'recovery environment' can provide them with insight and understanding. Sometimes, this can be incredibly difficult for parents to provide whilst coping with their own grief.
GSE is a school holiday program designed for children aged between 5 and 12 years, who have experienced the death of a brother or sister from cancer. Children attend the group to have fun with others who understand what it's like to lose a brother or sister to cancer and to have the opportunity to explore important feelings around their loss.
For further information about the GSE program:
**Please note: this group is currently not running. However expressions of interest in participating in this group are welcome.
Bereaved Parents Support Group
The death of a child can be one of the most challenging life experiences a parent has to face. Particular challenges may include adapting to life without their child, reintegration into the community (e.g. recommencing work) and continuing to care for other children and assisting them with their grief.
Parents report that it can sometimes be difficult to discuss how they are feeling about/coping with the loss of their child with their family and other people from their broader social networks.
The Bereaved Parents Support Group recognises that it can be beneficial to connect with other adults who have faced a similar situation. Parents meet throughout the year with others who understand and share the grief of losing their own child through cancer, to connect, share stories and to explore feelings around their loss. The support group is facilitated by the Family Service Counsellors and run several times throughout the year. The group may also meet in a variety of different ways, for example: special events may include, Christmas functions, memory days or special forums if families would like specific topics addressed.
For further information about the Bereaved Parents Support Group:
When a grandparent loses a grandchild to cancer they are faced with the unique situation of not only coping with their own grief, but also with supporting and assisting their child and other family members. Their role is often unique in that they often provide important support in many areas of family life.
The Special Grandparents group is designed for grandparents who have experienced the death of a grandchild from cancer, enabling them to share and explore their feelings of grief. This is an informal group facilitated by the Family Service Counsellors. The group meets bi-monthly, for a morning tea held at the CCA office and occasionally at alternative locations around Adelaide for special outings, i.e. a Christmas luncheon.
For further information about the Special Grandparents program:
Other Special Events
Throughout the year we hold other special events for families who have lost a child to cancer. Some examples of these events include:
For further information about the other special events program: