Doane House Hospice in Newmarket is helping grieving children connect with themselves and their feelings through art therapy.
On Aug. 24, 25 and 26, the hospice is offering different workshops for children aged six to 12 who are dealing with anticipatory grief from a loved one who is in end of life care or from the recent loss of a friend or family member.
Katherine Valkanas, the art therapist and bereavement coordinator at Doane House Hospice, said the purpose of the workshop is “to connect children with their inner voice and what’s happening with them in the present moment as they go through the different stages of grief.”
She said by “giving a language to help them navigate it at a younger age, it helps them process.”
Each day will involve a different art-based activity.
“Sometimes when we don’t have words for a specific thought or feeling or maybe we’re being overwhelmed with information and what’s happened,” Valkanas said. “Art helps become a tool of basically unravelling what that feels like for them, what that journey has been like for them and maybe reigniting a side of them.”
One of the sessions will be feeling flowers, an activity that is symbolic of the grief process.
Valkanas said it is a metaphor of how people grow throughout the process, flourish at different times, and how environments or seasons impact people differently, exploring “what does our grief journey look like.”
Another session is wish kites, which involves making a wish to send up to commemorate their loved one.
It is a favourite of Valkanas as she said people have the freedom to use different colours and symbolism or create a dialogue with their deceased family member or friend.
“They can decide what it means for them,” she said.
Finally, the third session is superhero dolls.
This activity is aimed at strength and coping skills, helping the participants figure out how to work with their feelings rather than pushing them down.
With all three crafts, Valkanas said it’s an important element “to have something at the end, something visual that can be taken home or brought to a place to continue that connection beyond just what we do in the workshop.”
For participants, she said each of these can become symbols they can continue to carry throughout the grieving process.
Like all of the hospice’s programs and services, there is no fee to participate but registration is required by calling 905-967-0259.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, there is limited capacity for the program. Registration is open until Friday, Aug. 13.