Everyone processes the loss of a loved one differently, especially children. Children are often “forgotten grievers.” They may hold back or not talk about their feelings because developmentally, they are not yet equipped to handle such strong emotions. This is when you can use art therapy to help children after a loss.
Most children have an idea of death, but the concept can be challenging to understand when they experience loss firsthand. Because children are more comfortable expressing themselves through their behavior and play than in words, art therapy can be a great way to help children conceptualize these feelings.
A child’s emotions can be all over the place while dealing with grief. Art therapy is a safe and constructive place for children to let out complex emotions such as sadness, guilt, anger, worry, anxiety, and depression. They can now channel these emotions through art mediums like drawing, painting, sculpting, dance, and music.
Doing art can be therapeutic and help kids relieve their stress. It also allows them to focus on things other than their loss. The act of doing something creative can help children relax and detach from their current reality.
Kids don’t need artistic talent to benefit from art therapy. In fact, the benefits of art therapy lie in the process of making art—not in the final outcome. Studies show that artistic creation induces production of dopamine, which plays a huge role in how we feel pleasure.
When dealing with grief for the first time, children may often find it challenging to identify the complicated emotions they’re feeling. By providing kids with a safe and creative environment for self-expression, art lets them better understand why they’re feeling what they are currently feeling.
Additionally, children also have a hard time understanding loss and the permanence of death. Being creative and making art gives them the ability to feel safe and secure during these confusing and emotionally taxing times. It lets them explore their changing identity in relation to their grief and gives them a better understanding of death and loss.
Moreover, kids can also use art to commemorate their loved ones and recollect their times with them in a positive manner.
You can always support your child at home by introducing them to new art projects, listening to them, and answering their questions. But, if you feel your child could benefit more from professional help, contact Hospice of the Piedmont’s Center for Children. Having a qualified and experienced art therapist is exceptionally beneficial. They will know how to cater to each individual’s psychological and artistic desires.
Grief is a unique process for each individual, and it takes patience to work with children who don’t yet fully understand their emotions. Group therapy can be very helpful as it fosters a sense of belonging with others going through grief. The Center for Children provides various types of support. Including a free monthly virtual group for children and families dealing with the loss of a loved one.
At Hospice of the Piedmont, we’re committed to helping children and their families navigate loss and grief. Visit our website or give us a call now to learn more about our services at the Center for Children. Call us at 434-817-6900.