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We will be glad to listen to your ideas and experience, because they might be helpful to someone else.
Therapeutic groups for parents with children with severe and untreatable conditions.
Families who care for a severely and untreatably ill child, experience a change in their daily rhythm of life. Everything is organised around the child’s needs. In order to do this, they need to learn to live differently, and that is not easy. Each person finds his or her own way to cope with difficulties. It depends on your personality type and previous experience. Sometimes relations perceive a child’s illness as a test for the family. Others try to cure the disease, hoping for a miracle, denying and refusing to accept the real situation. In such cases, there are a lot of negative emotions: anger and guilt and a feeling of powerlessness. If these situations prolong, families might experience relationship problems, between the parents, with children, relatives and friends. Often, families tend to isolate themselves, avoid socialising and having fun, because they believe that other people do not understand them.
The parental support group provides an opportunity for expressing one’s feelings, recognising one’s emotions; it is a place to feel secure and understood. This is a place, where parents meet others like them, and that is a great support.
The support group for bereaved parents “It is not good to be alone…” One should be able to receive support at times of sorrow and grief. But it is not easy. People who are experiencing sadness tend to avoid others. At such moments, it is hard for people around them to understand and empathise with the bereaved person, they do not know how to approach them. Frequently it ends up with them trying to “cheer them up” or make them think about something else. The result is untransformed feelings of sorrow.
One mother, Ilze, shared her thoughts about participation in the support group: “I just wanted to thank you once more for inviting me to the group of bereaved parents. I only realised how important it was to me a week after the end of group meetings. I felt like a one year old child making her own first steps: wobbly and liable to fall over at any instant, I sought support. And it hurts very much. But it was a place where I could identify and feel my psychological and spiritual pain, and understand what was happening to me, talk about it …. “
Support group for bereaved siblings
Sometimes people get the impression that children get over grief more easily and that a loss of a relative does not leave such a deep mark on their life as with adults. However, a child’s world view is formed through his or her own experience. It is essential to address these questions in order to be sure that the traumatic experience does not hinder the child’s emotional development.
In May 2013, the first support group for bereaved siblings completed its work. Group leaders (psychologist and psychotherapist from the children’s palliative care team) acknowledged that it was important for children to meet with others who have lost a brother or sister like they have. There are a lot of worries, fear and sadness in their little hearts. Children experience real grief but not all parents are ready to hear them out. Children are willing to talk about their family and what has happened, as well as to listen to the stories of others. The meetings were very active; there were different kinds of activities, games, fairy tales, drawing… This helped the children to recognise their feelings, to share them, to learn how to communicate and listen to each other.
At the final group session the children wrote to their departed sibling; the letters were burned in fire. Thus, in a symbolic way, they said farewell and reached the end of the grieving process. Most of the children said that they were looking forward to each session very much and expressed a wish to continue the meetings.