Seb is a nine year old boy who is very sensitive and empathetic, who had to deal with the loss of a significant person in his life.
Seb’s grandparents moved in his family home last year. During the lockdown Seb spent a lot of time with with his family and had time to establish a very close relationship with his grandfather who unfortunately was suffering from dementia. Sadly, Seb’s grandfather died six months ago and Seb seemed to still be greatly affected by this loss. He is also very aware of everyone else’s feelings, and often feels guilt about how his sadness and grief impacts on others.
Over a period of six weeks, Seb met with one of our Fegans’ counsellors and had the opportunity to talk to someone who could actively listen and who could help him make sense of his feelings and emotions.
During the therapy sessions, the counsellor encouraged Seb to use drawing and writing as a way of expressing his thoughts. Art Therapy gives children a safe place to express themselves using art, pictures and stories. This can improve the child’s self-esteem, benefitting them emotionally and intellectually. This approach had positive results and helped Seb to accept that although his grandfather would never come back, he left a lot of happy memories.
In time, Seb learned how to replace his negative thoughts and feelings with more positive ones which are related to happy recollections about his grandfather. Seb also had a great support from the school staff, family and friends.
From the third therapy session, Seb admitted that he felt better and had accepted the situation. In the last three sessions, he was able to talk about his current activities and plans for the future with his family.
Every child is unique and will cope with the death of someone important in their own way. There is no magic formula but things that help include:
- Clear, honest and age-appropriate information.
- Reassurance that they are not to blame and that different feelings are OK.
- Normal routines and a clear demonstration that important adults are there for them.
- Time to talk about what has happened, ask questions and build memories.
- Being listened to and given time to grieve in their own way.
*not his real name