Over six sessions this Fall, 12 high school students explored the importance of peer support in the grieving process through lectures, demonstrations, and group discussions at Chilliwack Hospice Society. Facilitated by Laurie McNaught, Community Outreach and Education Manager, and Franny Hills, Child and Youth Programs Manager, students were led through an introduction to grief and loss and practical skills, knowledge, and strategies for providing peer bereavement support to grieving teenagers.

The program curriculum included:

  • defining types of grief, factors that affect the grieving process, and what may be helpful when someone is grieving
  • practicing active listening and interpersonal communication skills
  • learning about different personal values, attitudes and beliefs about death, dying, grief and loss from guest speakers representing Stó:lō and Buddhist backgrounds
  • understanding the differences in the cognitive development of children, teens, and adults
  • discussing setting and maintaining healthy boundaries as a support person
  • best practices for social media use when a peer is grieving a death of someone they love
  • volunteer training for facilitating grief support groups for children and youth

Participants also learned about the resources available to them in the community, including the programs and services at Chilliwack Hospice Society, and discussed how they might refer a bereaved classmate for additional support.

Practicum students Caitlin Lidster and Chloe Amos contributed to the weekly discussions offering insights from their experiences.

“I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Chilliwack Hospice Society’s Teen group this year as a practicum student. It was amazing to learn and participate alongside the teens during the six sessions together, and I enjoyed listening to all their contributions and thoughtful ideas that they had surrounding the topic of grief. I think that having this group is so important especially for high school aged students. Learning how to provide support for a grieving friend or classmate can make a huge difference in their lives and how they experience grief. Having this group provides the resources for teens to learn more about grief as a whole, and about the different supports and resources that are available to those experiencing grief.” — Chloe Amos

Students also gave their own brief presentations, participated in journaling exercises, games and activities to gain further understanding.

All participants received a certificate recognizing their successful completion of our Teen Grief Peer Support Training and were credited with work experience hours for their high school graduation requirements. We anticipate facilitating another Teen Grief Peer Support Training course in the spring with new students.

If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a loved one right now, call Chilliwack Hospice Society at (604) 795-4660 or visit www.chilliwackhospice.org to learn more about the one-to-one support, groups and workshops that are currently being offered. Donations are always gratefully accepted at the Thrifty Boutique and online at www.chilliwackhospice.org/donate