This is Part III of a blog series about ‘closing’ at The WARM Place – What does it mean to close? When is it time to close? and What happens after I close? Take a look at Part I and Part II of the series.
In our two previous blog posts, we have discussed what it means to close and how to know when it is time for your family to close. In Part III, we will discuss what happens after you have closed and no longer attend your grief support group at The WARM Place.
Many families hesitate to close because they know they will miss the regular support and connection of The WARM Place, but when children feel well-adjusted and are no longer benefiting from the group, the gift of closure gives them an opportunity to say good-byes and experience a formal ending. Since they have not had control over saying goodbye to family members who died, this process is especially important for children. In choosing to close, children receive a sense of control in their farewells.
After a family closes from a group, there are many opportunities to stay connected to The WARM Place and continue the grief journey as a family.
- Family Nights are opportunities for WARM Place families to return for fun activities held either at our house or another facility and see previous group members. Some examples of past Family Nights include Painting the Strokes of Grief, Family Day at the Zoo and Family Football Night.
- Our annual Race to Remember Them, a 1 mile, 5k, and 10k, is another fun event to attend. This is a great opportunity to remember your loved one and do something together as a family. You can also re-connect with volunteers, staff and other WARM Place families.
- As you continue your grief journey as a family after closing from The WARM Place, remember to continue talking and listening to your children about their loved one and grief journey. Children need space, as well as attention to continue processing their grief and to know that all emotions are okay. Here are some ways to do that:
- Have a designated family dinner to remember your loved one on the days you used to come to The WARM Place group. One family who recently closed said on the nights they previously attended group, they have scheduled family dinners and activities where they will discuss memories and do things together to remember their loved one.
- Remember your loved one on holidays and birthdays. Ask your children what they want to do on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays to remember their loved one. Do they want to visit the gravesite? Write a letter to the loved one? Go to his or her favorite restaurant? Do something in his or her honor? Give them the ability to have ideas and decide. There is no “right” thing to do on these days, but the intentional time together as a family is important.
- Have a “blue day” plan. Talk as a family and discuss what is most helpful for each family member when he or she is having a particularly tough day. Each family member may have a different need such as being alone, being with a group, journaling, going for a walk, cooking a favorite meal or listening to music. Ask each member to share what is most helpful, so that when these difficult days occur, the whole family can be a team to give that person what he or she needs in the grief journey. Everyone’s grief journey is unique, just as every person and relationship is unique.
As summer approaches and schedules change, it is a good time for families to reevaluate where they are in their grief journey. We hope this blog series has been helpful for you as you think about what it means to close, when you should close, and how to continue the grief journey after closing and leaving your biweekly group at The WARM Place. As always, we would love to hear your ideas about how you have continued your grief journey!