Service for Young Grievers:
So what would this project actually involve?
Story Monkey is a process approach to collaboratively developing, with a child, stories that help them to recognize, organize, and speak aloud about the dilemmas that their losses have created for them. The feelings that block a child’s sense that their ‘new normal’ can be good-enough must be opened up for healing to happen.
This project is also meant to provide a resource for parents whose own grief might limit their availability to their child’s distress. I am a committed to the idea that a child’s healthy development “takes a village”.
This project will involve a series of 6-12 meetings ranging from 1-2 hours each. I do not anticipate that it is best done in the presence of a parent however we can consider, on a child by child basis, what the right fit is for your child.
BEGINNING: Chapter One involves finding our way to a safe, emotionally receptive relationship. I intend to help your child consider how they might want to formulate a project about their experience of loss. We will think together about the stories that they are telling themselves. Trying to understand a child’s perspective, on the the as-of-yet-unknown significance of their loss, might allow them to shift their attention from what has happened ‘to’ them to what they can ‘do’ with what has happened. New perspectives often change what we see.
MIDDLE: Chapter Two involves an agreement, between the child and myself, that we will meet to talk about specific struggles they’re experiencing.
Our goal is to invent new ways of looking at their painful, and still new, self understandings. From there, we will develop a broader opportunity for them to grieve constructively by expanding how they imagine themselves formulating a new future.
These sessions will involve gathering meaningful photos and objects of memory that will help them to tell their stories.
END: Chapter Three involves an active engagement in co-creating a less constricted story about themselves. Having begun to absorb their losses and developing some more explicit notions of their changed futures, we will organize their chosen photos and memories (hopes and fears) into a coherent, future oriented story… a story that they can hold onto and return to as an anchor for and a reminder of their journey.
The shape of this project, will generally be a book. It can assume other forms, in keeping with the child’s age and preferences, but
the intent will always be the same… a meaning driven, future focused legacy gift. It will be a gift that preserves the child’s experience of loss while developing their relationship to that loss going forward.
Eileen Vandergrift, PhD /Fort Collins, Colorado / Grief Therapy /Stories of Loss