If you are a Funeral Director (FD) in Ontario, you are required to attend two days of Continuing Education every five years to maintain your license. This year I had the privilege of attending the education sponsored by the Ontario Board of Funeral Services to present the “Loss Grief and Growth” (LGG) education resource. This resource was developed to support teachers who are preparing and/or supporting kids experiencing loss and grief. (see post 26/2010)
Throughout the two days, Suzanne Scott from Funeral Services of Canada and I met some great people who are very interested in helping to carry the LGG resource into the schools.
The FDs shared stories of incredible work they are doing with kids, in schools, and in community.
One of the stories that touched me:
A Funeral Director (FD) from a small town near the Quebec border spoke of his children, and how they welcome children who are visiting the Funeral Home. Apparently, he purchased suits for his two young boys. When they see kids come with parents to the Funeral Home to make arrangements, his children often go home, get their suits on, come back to the funeral home, and start to visit with the kids. They show the kids a room with toys, and then sometimes take the kids to show them the chapel, the caskets, the waiting room etc.. This has been a great gift for the visiting kids who might otherwise have been uncomfortable.I am confident that the children are provided some direction and support.
Once again I had the opportunity to hear Yves Berthiume speak about his tours for the Grade 7’s and 8’s to his funeral home. The teachers and kids LOVE the tours. They enter the building, sign in, and then go through as though they were adults on tour. When the time comes for questions they are full of them! The questions last until they are pulled away to return to school.
A FD told of a child who toured the funeral home, and whose father died unexpectedly months later. The mother was lost. The child said, “Don’t worry mom, now we go to the Funeral Home, and this is what happens.” The child was not afraid, the child knew what to expect.
Another child toured the funeral home, and later when he was dying of cancer, returned to choose a casket, and plan his funeral.
Sometimes I hear hospice workers say, “Oh, we don’t work with kids” forgetting that most of their clients/patients, have children or grandchildren within their circle of loved ones. We need to remember these short people, and attend to their needs as well.
The teachers in our communities are in an amazing position to support, mentor, and guide our youth. The LGG resource is one resource to help them do so.
LGG can be downloaded free of charge from www.curriculum.org listed under supplementary resources. Or go to www.fsac.ca