It is important to recognize common reactions to grief and loss and have the resources to support youth in developing the skills they need to cope with grief and loss.
Loss and transition are both natural parts of our lives from the moment we are born, however, grief is an all too familiar experience for many of the young people we serve. According to a recent survey conducted by the New York Life Foundation, one in 14 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18, with the vast majority of youth experiencing major life-altering losses by the time they reach adulthood. Major life-altering losses such as those due to death, divorce, displacement and deployment can have a lasting impact on the lives of children and adolescents. While grief is the natural mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and social reaction that people have to bereavement and other major life altering losses, young people are particularly sensitive to the negative impact of a loss or traumatic event.
Every November, The National Alliance for Grieving Children observes Children's Grief Awareness Month to raise awareness of the needs of grieving children — and of the benefits they obtain through the support of others. Research shows that supportive relationships are essential for the health and well-being of our youth.
Boys & Girls Clubs serve youth and families in numerous ways and are often on the front lines of grief. To continue providing youth and families with the support they need, Boys & Girls Clubs of America partnered with The New York Life Foundation, the largest corporate funder of childhood bereavement and a provider of expert-endorsed grief resources, to create “Be There,” an initiative to better support grieving youth and connect families to grief assistance resources. Be There provides Club staff with training, resources and strategies to help them understand how grief impacts young people, how to recognize and respond to signs of grief and trauma, and how to provide young people with an environment that’s conducive to helping them process their grief and build resilience through strong, supportive relationships.
While coping with a loss or hardship, children often grieve in individual ways, just as adults do, therefore, it is important to recognize common reactions to grief and loss and have the resources to support youth in developing the skills they need to cope with grief and loss. Our Be There Toolkit and materials include useful resources and links to help Clubs, parents and caregivers support grieving youth. Visit bgca.org/bethere for additional resources for support.