Participants will learn three strategies to help children talk about and process their emotions and grief, as well as ways to cope as a parent in this new way of life.
While Calm Waters is often known for its free grief services related to families facing a death or going through a divorce, grief and loss can be felt in many other instances as well.
AnneMarie, a mom of two boys whose husband died five years ago, has made use of Calm Waters support groups for herself and her children over the last year. Her boys began participating in free 6-week student support groups prior to the pandemic and her oldest continued to participate virtually when the organization, for the first time in its history, transitioned those groups online. AnneMarie says knowing her kids still had that option, especially during a pandemic, has relieved some burden from her list of mom worries.
“There has been trauma in their lives, but even aside from that, everyone is in a state of crisis right now,” said AnneMarie. “We are faced with unknown situations and there is a lot of anxiety from the unknown. It’s nice to have a place where kids, and families, can share their feelings and be validated without judgment.”
AnneMarie’s less outgoing son has preferred the virtual groups, participating from the comfort of his home and not having to navigate the sometimes awkward world of tween social norms and small talk. For parents, there’s no pressure to drive somewhere by a certain time; it’s as simple as logging in. Even if her son doesn’t share a lot during the sessions, AnneMarie can tell he’s being impacted.
“You never know the impact of the words of the other kids and facilitators,” said AnneMarie. “Even if they aren’t responding that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting something out of it. Everyone’s comfort level is respected and everyone is valued as a member of the group.”
It’s been the shared experiences of other participants that have stayed with AnneMarie, too, as she’s participated in an online support group for parents. As a busy mom, she appreciates the opportunity to focus on herself.
“As moms, we aren’t great at self-care in general and don’t often take intentional time to reflect on how we are responding or our stressors,” said AnneMarie. “Those stressors are impacting you whether or not you’re acknowledging them. Acknowledging them gives you the power to move ahead and not let them control you.”
For both AnneMarie and her boys, the support has helped them feel less alone in their grief and they’ve all gained life-long strategies for their mental and emotional health.
“It’s empowering for [kids] to name and identify their feelings, to know those are OK and to have a plan for what to do when they feel that way,” said AnneMarie. “We teach kids math and science and reading but we don’t always recognize that we need to teach social and emotional health and how to handle life when it doesn’t go the way we anticipate or feel it should.”
Living and parenting through a pandemic is a prime example, leaving many families yearning for days of “normalcy.” The stress and loss of that normalcy have created an environment where families are mourning their old roles, rituals and routines, a prime reason Calm Waters has created the upcoming free workshop for parents.
“We all have loss, and life is a little easier if we have coping strategies,” said AnneMarie.
Parents can learn more and register for the FREE virtual Fighting Family Burnout During a Pandemic workshop here.
In addition, Calm Waters is accepting student participants to their FREE 6-week Virtual Student Support Groups, which are open to any child, grades Pre-K through 12, who has experienced loss due to death, divorce, foster care or adoption, military deployment, incarceration or deportation. Find out more and register at www.calmwaters.org/programs/school-groups.
Calm Waters also offers grief support groups, divorce support groups, parenting through divorce seminars and individual counseling and consultation. Learn more at calmwaters.org.