When I heard the news about the attacks in Paris, I’d just come back from walking along the pier at St Kilda beach. The skies were grey, there was a light drizzle falling, and there were many boats of various shapes and sizes bobbing on the waves.
I had the ubiquitous white ear buds pumping energising tunes into my ears. My cheeks were lightly pink from the half-hearted cardio attempts I’d made, and my mind was throwing up questions and wonderings about what the work day ahead held.
I came back to my hotel room, turned on the television, and was hit with a wave of shock. Sadly, since September 2001, this isn’t a new experience for me – being punched in the gut with shock and awe and a feeling that the world just isn’t the safe place we long for it to be.
Despite my desire to run and hide under the bed, my thoughts turned to my own children – a whole state away – hopefully wrapped up in their morning routine. I hoped they were eating Weetbix, in their school uniforms. I hoped that the caring adult in their world had the presence of mind to shield their ears, minds and hearts from what the media was spitting out.
I hoped that their caring adult was mindful in their response to the acts of terrorism, and thought carefully about the words they said out loud, reflecting on the fact that their words, facial expressions and responses to this outrage were planting a potentially life long seed, of how certain groups of people would be perceived.
I hoped that their caring adult took the time to hold them close, to remind them that they were loved, to remind them that they would do everything in their power to protect them always from anyone who meant them harm.
From so far away, all I could do was hope.
All I can do, moving forward, is hope.
Hope – that there are Education and Care professionals who feel as passionately as I do about social justice – and thankfully here, I can say assuredly that there are.
Hope – that there are Education and Care professionals who understand that their calm and measured tone may be the only “voice of reason” in a community where right wing “this is why we should lock them all up!” mentality abounds.
Hope – that time can be found in busy days to watch small faces who may not have words for the confusion they feel. Time to observe changes in play – to see the wonderings played out in microscopic detail. Time to sit close and reassure.
The nappy chart will wait. The paper plate tree will wait. The photoshopped learning story with the stars at the border can sit a little longer while the children sit in our laps, with questions of border protection ringing in their ears on the back of a talk back rant they heard during the drive to child care.
Hope – that we as Education and Care professionals draw our minds, hearts and spirits back to that most fundamental of the Rights of the Child – Article 19, protection.
The resource provides insightful advice assisting our understanding of what loss means to children, as well as outlining positive strategies to help children cope, including:
- the emotions produced by loss
- how children understand grief
- the ways children may respond
- cultural differences in the ways children may experience grief and loss
- what parents and carers can do to help children cope.
State and Territory Governments have information and support available for children and families coping with a loss.
You may also wish to follow links below to some other resources. Families may wish to seek professional support and advice.
- Kidsmatter – a mental health initiative – Children and grief
- Red Chocolate Elephants: Book and DVD: For Children Bereaved By Suicide
- Winston’s Wish: Muddles Puddles and Sunshine: Activity Book for Bereaved Children
- Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (Books for Children)
Where to go for help
- Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma loss and Grief Network
- Lifeline. Lifeline Centres can provide links to suicide bereavement support groups.
- Salvation Army Hope Line 1300 467 354 (24hr bereavement support)
- SANE Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)
- StandBy 24hr crisis response to those bereaved by through suicide.
- Suicide Line (Victoria): suicideline.org.au