Understanding grief process in children

Nine-year-old Collin Garner of Moss Bluff loves football and even feels a little sympathetic for the guys taking him on.

"I'm afraid to hurt somebody," he said.

Collin has always loved being outdoors, especially playing tag with his dad.

"We would run around my grandma and grandpa's house," he said.

Those are times sealed in Collin's memory, just like the day his mom, Jennifer, had to tell him his firefighter dad suddenly collapsed and died at home.

"When it happened, it was like 'how am I gonna tell my kids; what am I gonna tell them; what am I gonna do?'" she said.

Three years have passed since that heart-wrenching day. Collin, along with his two younger sisters, is doing well. Grief counseling has played a big role in that healing.

Counselor Sara McDonald with the Shannon Cox Counseling Center in Lake Charles said, "Grieving is something that is ongoing. It's not something that goes away, it's not like a cold and you can treat it for a while and it goes away."

McDonald says there is no age range that is best for grief counseling.

"Everyone needs supportive environments and some support from a peer or another human and that's not always available in their every day lives," she said.

That is exactly what led to the creation of the Shannon Cox Counseling Center, part of Family & Youth Counseling Agency (FYCA). It is named after a local woman killed in a car accident in 2010.

"The friends of Shannon Cox wanted to provide children a place where they could share their memories and really feel good about themselves," said FYCA President and CEO Julio Galan.

Kids like Collin are counseled individually and in groups with other children experiencing the same emotions.

"They go through similar things like I do," said Collin.

Jennifer says counselors have also worked with her as she moved from wife to widow and single mother.

"They also talk with me, and they counsel me, and they give me direction, and they give me ideas."

It is full family support in a time of grieving and healing. Click here to learn more about the Shannon Cox Counseling Center and grief counseling for children.

Some children might only need a couple of counseling sessions, while others are part of individual or group therapies for years.

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