Losing a loved one is never easy, but for kids and teens, navigating this difficult time poses even more challenges. Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center, a Tidewell Hospice program, provides specialized support for kids aged 5 to 18 after the death of a significant person in their lives.
While Tidewell has long offered free bereavement services, until Blue Butterfly was formed in 2018, they did not have any programming that was specifically geared towards children and teens. Blue Butterfly initially began as a school program. However, the demand was so great that they quickly outgrew the space and moved to their own building in Lakewood Ranch last year. Today, they’re getting ready to open a second location in Ellenton and already have families on waiting lists to join.
Results-Based Therapy Provided by Professionals
Blue Butterfly’s programming uses evidence-based interventions that support children and families on their grief journey. It’s run by licensed mental health professionals and trained volunteers who are familiar with childrens’ grieving process.
Every group session begins with a family dinner. This helps break down barriers and makes everyone more comfortable before moving into the group sessions. After dinner, younger children often engage in play therapy while teenagers participate in age-based support groups and bonding activities led by counselors who are experts in teen grief.
These group sessions help children see that they’re not alone with what they’re feeling and help them learn how to deal with the slew of emotions they’re feeling – including sadness, loneliness, anger, and guilt.
Group sessions usually start with a check-in, where each person can talk about who they lost and how it happened. They’re reminded that everything they say is confidential, then talk about a specific topic and do some type of a project. Usually, they create something tangible – like a piece of art – that they can take home with them to remind them of the progress they’re making.
Sessions are run by clinical mental health professionals who put thought and purpose into each project. This helps to ensure each child is making real progress with their grief, and their progress is documented along the way.
Each session is connected, and a “semester” lasts about 8 sessions. Kids can come back for as many “semesters” as they want until they feel they’re ready to move on. While the children are in their sessions, the caregivers also meet with professionals to learn more about how to process their own grief and how to support their grieving children.
Emergency Support at the Time of Death
When a death is unexpected, caregivers often struggle to find a way to tell their children. Blue Butterfly can help with this as well. They offer emergency services where their professionals will help coach you regarding what to say (and what to avoid). During a crisis, you’re welcome to call them for assistance.
Need Help? Reach Out to Blue Butterfly
Family grief services are offered at no cost, and families can enroll regardless of when the death occurred. Blue Butterfly groups meet twice per month in the evening from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Groups run during the school year with additional summer programming provided in June & July.
Ways You Can Help
All the services provided by Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center are paid for by Tidewell donors. If you want to support this amazing organization, you can volunteer your time, make a financial donation, or purchase an item from their Amazon Wish List. You can also visit their website to learn more about the organization and the services they offer..