Hilda’s House staff Helen Bodnar, Carolyn Smith and Tiina Jukka are about to launch the latest grief groups for children.
Hilda’s House staff Helen Bodnar, Carolyn Smith and Tiina Jukka are about to launch the latest grief groups for children. David Nielsen

Kids grief group to help young people through loss

USING games, artwork and group discussions, counsellors at not-for-profit group Hilda's House are helping children across Ipswich all united by one horrible thing - the loss of a loved one.

Hilda's House, attached to Ipswich Hospice Care, has run children's grief counselling groups since 2007.

The next session will launch on May 3 and its creators have invited children in the community to come along to receive specialised support during the grieving process.

Social worker Tiina Jukka leads the program and said children experienced grief differently from adults.

She said children who take part in the group had often lost a parent, a sibling or grandparent.

Each group accommodates 8-10 children from ages 6-14 years.

"Often grief is an isolating experience," Tiina said.

"With adults, it's more consuming.

"Kids go in and out of it. It is quite different and they need specialised attention and support.

"They have different feelings. Anger is a big one that comes up with kids, and guilt. We also look at resilience."

Hilda's House started hosting the group sessions after seeing a large number of children seeking one-on-one counselling services after a family member's death.

Tiina said it became clear there was a huge need in the community for child-specific services.

"It's a safe, support environment for kids to explore the grief that they're going through," she said.

More than 200 children have since taken part in the program.

Parents or carers can contact Hilda's House on 3812 1163 to speak to staff about taking part in the group.

Hilda's House also runs a group specifically for the carers of children taking part in the group sessions, and each group runs at the same time.

"That's just an opportunity for them to get support themselves but also understand what their kids are going though," Tiina said.

A separate adult grief counselling group will start on May 5.