Special to Iredell Free News
As deaths continue to increase due to COVID-19, children in our community are being left to grieve the loss of their loved ones.
Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County’s Rainbow Kidz Pediatric Grief Counseling Program is currently working with more than 25 children who have lost a family member to COVID-related causes, said Rainbow Kidz Director Leigh Ann Darty.
Many of these children are experiencing trauma and shock and are worrying about what the future holds, Darty said. “They’re very scared, thinking about who might get sick next. Sometimes, they didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
Thursday, November 19, marks Children’s Grief Awareness Day, which seeks to bring attention to the fact that support can make all the difference in the life of a grieving child. It also provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the painful impact that the death of a loved one has in the life of a child.
Professional grief counseling services like Rainbow Kidz “provide emotional support for children struggling with grief, allowing them to find guidance and understanding during an extremely difficult time,” according to the Caring Foundation. “For many grieving children the most helpful reaction they can receive is an acknowledgement of their feelings, a listening ear, and the support of caring individuals.”
In Iredell County, Rainbow Kidz provides free in-school and individual counseling to more than 500 grieving children each year. The program, which serves 42 schools across Iredell County, emphasizes healthy coping skills and focuses on teaching children how to heal from their grief.
More than 55 percent of the children served by Rainbow Kidz have experienced the death of a parent or sibling, and more than 70 percent have suffered a sudden or traumatic loss.
“Our Rainbow Kidz show so much courage every day,” Darty said. “They are doing the very difficult work of grieving and healing, while handling the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic.”
To learn more about Rainbow Kidz, visit www.HOIC.org.