Airedale Hospital and Community Charity recently supported Airedale hospital’s Palliative Care Team to create bereavement boxes for young children facing the loss of a parent or other close relative. The charity funded five full boxes, plus a range of items to maintain the project, costing over £700.
Recent experiences have highlighted the need for more tailored aftercare for youngsters facing the loss of a parent. The aim of these boxes is to help the patient and child work through the process together in a dignified manner and will provide lasting memories for the child to treasure. The project will ultimately give an outstanding patient and family experience when they need it the most.
Families can choose from a range of different items, e.g., books which explain the process, craft items, seeds to plant in memory, poem cards, pens, pencils, colouring books, LED candles. This also includes practical things like a ‘how to make a dream catcher’ activity, and a memory jar with different coloured sand which can be associated with a memory or feeling.
The resources are to be used pre or post bereavement and help children to understand what’s happening and facilitate difficult conversations between the child and their family. The child can do the activities on their own, or the parent (or relative) can do the activities together.
Emily Castleden, from Airedale’s Palliative Care Team, said:
“We acknowledge that ‘how’ and ‘when’ a child is told about a palliative diagnosis or the approaching death of a loved one influences their initial grief and coping strategies into adulthood.
“In hospital it can be a difficult environment to have these conversations, so we sourced resources to support families having conversations at home or in a space that is safe for the child.
“We have sourced books suitable for all ages, simple activities that can be used to talk about their feelings, worries and fears. We’ve received some really positive feedback from family members and some have found particular phrases in books very helpful rather than having to read the whole book.
“We have provided teddies and hearts so the patient can keep one and the child or young adult can keep another, candles with meaningful quotes, and flower seeds too which can be given to older children and young adults to plant.
“Amongst all this we have links to multiple websites, apps, charities that all support the early bereavement phase.”
You can donate to support projects like this on our Ways to Donate page.
(Photographed: items in bereavement boxes)