Rebuilding hope after the loss of a child

A child’s death can be one of the worst experiences in a parent’s life. Many parents talk about the overwhelming sorrow and pain experienced after the death of their child and how their world was shattered. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to a loss and it is necessary to heal. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is committed to helping families who are on this painful journey by offering support, resources and hope.

Everyone grieves differently, which is why our Bereavement Program offers a variety of services to help our families begin the healing process. We have several adult support …Continue reading →

School shootings: How to help children cope with tragedy

We are stunned and saddened by last week’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. As an organization that cares, heals and protects children every day, our reactions are especially heightened to this terrible tragedy.

Talking to children about difficult community events can be challenging. Remember to be as honest as possible, speak on their level and remain calm. Here are behaviors to watch …Continue reading →

Grieving parents and the “elephant” in front of the Christmas tree

Brandon Fochs

Brandon Fochs on a camping trip with his father just weeks before his death

The holidays are a difficult time of year for our family. Nine years ago we lost our son, Brandon, when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike. No amount of holiday cheer can ever transport us to a time when we were a complete family. Unfortunately, many of you can relate because you have lost your precious child too.

It’s been a long time since Brandon’s death; aren’t we “over it?” No. You never “get over” the loss of your child. You simply learn to go on without them — enduring the pain, treasuring the memories and being thankful that you were blessed to have such a special child even for a …Continue reading →

Helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one

I am privileged to have two very important roles in my life. First, I am a mom. Second, I serve as the bereavement coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

A few years ago, my family was faced with the decision to put our beloved cat, Zekky, to sleep. Here are some tips you can use to help your kids deal with the loss of a loved one.

Provide options.
As the “grief person” in our family, I knew to involve my kids in the process of putting Zekky to sleep. I explained to my children what would happen at the vet’s office. My 6-year-old son decided not to go. My 4-year-old daughter was able to hold Zekky as she was gently put to sleep. Even though I received criticism from some of my friends and family, I know that both decisions were right for my children.

Create rituals.
Having a burial ceremony for Zekky in our backyard helped my children grieve. The most important thing we did was talk about Zekky. We talked about our memories, how much we loved her and how sad we were that she died.

Tell the truth.
Unfortunately, death and dying is something that all of us experience. We are not protecting our children when we hide the truth from them. Through honest discussions about death and dying, we can take away some of the scariness. Why? Because the unknown is so much scarier than the known. Using the death of a pet to teach children how to cope with their grief can be a good experience, giving them skills to use throughout their entire lives.

Learn more about helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one here.

Nichole Schwerman, MA, CT- Nichole Schwerman, MA, CT, bereavement coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is committed to helping families who are on this painful journey by offering support, resources and hope. For more information about our Bereavement Program, call (414) 266-2995.