Wednesday, 13 March 2019 16:24

Grief Camp helps Richmond County children cope with loss

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A makeshift barn set up in the conference room of Richmond County Hospice will serve as the backdrop for Thursday's Children's Grief Camp. A makeshift barn set up in the conference room of Richmond County Hospice will serve as the backdrop for Thursday's Children's Grief Camp. Contributed photo

ROCKINGHAM — The grief process is very personal and quite unique, reads the Richmond County Hospice website, and the bereavement services that Hospice provides help family members adjust to the loss of loved ones.

That process also includes children, and for the 26th year in a row, Richmond County Hospice will hold its Children's Grief Camp on the Camp Haven portion of the campus beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

"It's a camp that we provide to children that have had a loss in the last year," said Hospice CEO Kristina Leyden of the one-day camp. "Not just a loved one, but a pet, the loss of a home, loss of a parent going to prison or divorce. Just any kind of significant loss in the last year."

Richmond County Hospice offers grief support services to a patient's family members for 13 months following their death, said Lisa O'Neal, volunteer and outreach coordinator. Bereavement services are available to any member of the community who has experienced the loss of a loved one, she said.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. on the campus at 1119 U.S. 1 N, and Leyden said that as of Wednesday afternoon, 50 kids ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade were already signed up. In addition to that number, Leyden went on to say that 21 teenage volunteers will be in attendance, as well as six school counselors from the Richmond County area and 18 Richmond County Hospice staff members.

Once they arrive and check in, kids will then get to head into the makeshift "indoor barn" that's been set up in the Hospice conference room to watch the movie "Barnyard," which is also this year's theme.

"'Barnyard' is about farm animals, and this cow named Otis is the main character," said Leyden. "He watches the field for coyotes. One night he's supposed to be watching, and he asks his dad to not do that, and his dad ends up getting killed. It's then up to Otis to take over, but he doesn't want to. It's about him overcoming that and taking over the barn. It shows how Otis has to grow up in the face of adversity. He just wants to have fun but learns to take care of everybody."

Once the children have finished watching the movie, they'll have an introduction with the overall group, then branch off into six separate activities that will be set up.

Each activity has a theme unto itself with those being "Be kind to yourself," "Moooody is okay," "Honor your memories," "Be kind to others," "Putting your coping skills to use" and "Seeking comfort for mooooving forward."

"Each station will help them in some way," said O'Neal. "They'll do an activity to face the loss that they've had or to remember the lost one."

Hospice will provide breakfast, lunch and a snack, but Leyden said these types of events couldn't be done without their sponsors of Southern Prime Steakhouse, Richmond County Farm Bureau, Church of God of Prophecy in Hamlet, Biscuitville, Outreach for Jesus and Tyfton Acres, a petting zoo from Richmond County that will be part of the festivities.

"The main reason why we do the grief camp is to reach out to children who are suffering," Leyden said. "It helps them find a way to cope with loss. We wanna be able to help them to always approach hardship using the techniques they're gonna learn from this grief camp. It will give them new tools to be able to pull out of their tool belt."