A new online program is intended to help Airdrie teenagers grieving the loss of loved ones.
Airdrie and District Hospice Society’s Grief Support Program for Teens is, according to Executive Director Lise Blanchette, the first of its kind in Airdrie.
“There are no grief support programs for youth in Airdrie,” Blanchette said. “Over the years, I have had phone calls from the high schools, in particular, wondering if we had any programs to support teens.”
Beginning Nov. 17, one-hour sessions will be conducted via Zoom on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The program will run until Feb. 2.
Blanchette said the program will be targeted to teenagers between 14 and 16 years old and will follow a curriculum from Rainbows for All Children Canada, an organization that specializes in developing curriculum and training facilitators for children experiencing loss.
“I have been working on this for a few years now,” Blanchette said. “Because of COVID-19 and previous requests, we chose to do the teen group because they are more in touch with virtual learning.”
Blanchette said it is important for youth to be able to address their grief and not only take their cues from adults.
“Everybody grieves in a different way,” she said.
Blanchette said children tend to keep their feelings inside, which can cause a number of issues.
“It can go one of two ways – they can go within and become quiet and not deal with their grief, or it can go the other way where it can become very troublesome for them,” she said. “Either way it is not a good scenario.”
It is extremely important, Blanchette said, to have a program of this nature available in the community so teenagers know they aren’t alone and have a space to process their feelings through discussions and journaling.
According to Blanchette, the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused new challenges when it comes to grieving.
“Because people haven’t been able to get the closure needed during the grieving process, and not even being able to have standard funeral services, it is even more important now for the teens to talk about it in a safe environment,” Blanchette said. “Being able to share their feelings with others their age is important.”
According to a press release, the Airdrie and District Hospice Society said in a press release it hopes it will be able to provide these grief support sessions for other age groups in the future and will offer them and in person once the pandemic subsides.