Friday, January 30, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Yolo Hospice: Group helps children handle their grief

By
From page A5 | September 24, 2013 |

By Cynthia Wolff

Imagine a young child in elementary school grieving the sudden death of her parent. A referral was made to the Yolo Hospice child bereavement support group — Stepping Stones.

In the beginning, when children join this group they often choose not to participate. Overwhelmed with grief, they often pass when asked questions. Emotions can be hard to identify and put into words. Children see themselves as different from their classmates. Participation in school events is not the same.

As children continue to attend the support group, they begin to feel more comfortable, and able to talk about their loss. Sometimes it takes many months, or more than a year for the family to see benefit. A sign of recovery can be evidenced by speaking more openly about the death, grieving and emotions. Healing is also evidenced by sharing experiences with members new to the group. Family members appreciate how trained professionals who facilitate the group can approach a subject that is still too painful or difficult for them to talk about.

Aja Michael, a medical social worker, is 31 years old, born and raised in the Sacramento area. She lives with her husband, two young boys, two dogs and two chickens. Prior to her work with Yolo Hospice, she taught preschool and kindergarten in a Montessori school for almost nine years. During her time there, she had multiple experiences working with grieving children and families and found herself very connected to this work.

After some significant personal losses, it became clear to Aja that she found her calling in grief work. She changed her major from child development to social work and obtained her bachelor of social work in 2009 from Sacramento State University. She went on to complete her master of social work degree in 2011. During this time, she trained in a variety of settings, including Sacramento County In-Home Support Services, Sacramento City School District and Yolo Hospice. Aja is currently working on her supervised hours for obtaining her license as a licensed clinical social worker.

Aja began her tenure at Yolo Hospice in May 2011 and became the Stepping Stones program coordinator that September. During her time as program coordinator, she has attended numerous conferences and trainings, including a specialized program development training by Donna Schuurman, executive director of The Dougy Center (www.dougyorg). Its mission “provides support and training locally, nationally and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children in grief.”

Aja contacts all of our families who have children affected by the death of a loved one. She provides information and resources to community members, including grieving families, school staff, law enforcement and medical professionals. Each week she facilitates bereavement groups for children and teens, serving up to 18 families a month. She also provides individual grief support counseling for children ranging in age from 3 to 18.

Aja is a regular presenter in our office and to our community on understanding children’s grief and topics related to grieving children.

Aja and Yolo Hospice staff believe grief is a natural and normal experience for all children after the death of a loved one. At Stepping Stones, we provide them with a safe space to remember their loved one, express and explore emotions, develop healthy coping skills, and learn from their peers. It is also important for them to know that it’s OK to laugh, play, and have fun after a death, so we do plenty of this as well.

Aja is on track with her goal to complete her hours for licensure and plans to continue her work with grieving children.

“I hope to educate our community on this topic and program so that no child has to grieve alone,” she says.

Contributions from community have helped Yolo Hospice provide a wide range of bereavement services, from the child and teen bereavement program Stepping Stones to the many support groups we run for adults. All are offered at no charge.

Yolo Hospice continues to care for any patient in need, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay. Visit our website at www.yolohospice.org for more information about bereavement programs.

— Cynthia Wolff is the director of access and outreach for Yolo Hospice. This column is published monthly.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Suspected Ebola patient being treated at UCD Med Center

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Town hall focuses on Coordinated Care Initiative

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Schools give parents tools to help kids thrive

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Two more cases of measles in Northern California in children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Dartmouth bans hard liquor

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2

     
    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    No bare bottoms, thanks to CommuniCare’s Diaper Drive

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Storyteller relies on nature as his subject on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Still time to purchase tickets for DHS Cabaret

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    All voices welcome at sing-along Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Great Chefs Program will feature Mulvaney

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3Comments are off for this post

    Free tax preparation service begins Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    February science fun set at Explorit

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Take a photo tour of Cuba at Flyway Nights talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    See wigeons, curlews and meadowlarks at city wetlands

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Time for bed … with Grandma

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Weigh quality of life, density

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Olive expert joins St. James event

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    We’re grateful for bingo proceeds

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    A ‘new deal’ for the WPA building

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Protect root zone to save trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    UCD men set new school D-I era win record

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD has another tough football schedule in 2015

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Gould’s influence felt mightily in recent Super Bowls

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Mustangs hold off UCD women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sharks double up Ducks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Watney, Woods start slow at TPC Scottsdale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Recall that first Aggie TV game, national title?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Song of the Sea’ is an enchanting fable

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    ‘Artist’s Connection’ launches on DCTV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Gross’ paintings highlight a slice of Northern California

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    February show at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 is ‘Food for Thought’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: A9