Hospice and Children

Supporting children through the grieving process

By Trina Garett, Multimedia Coordinator at Hospice of San Joaquin April 24, 2017

“Any child old enough to love is old enough to mourn”

    ~Alan Wolfelt

Hospice is often seen as something that exists only for the elderly or cancer patients. Childhood should be a time filled with happiness and laughter, so many are caught unaware when tragedy strikes and disrupts the smiles. At Hospice of San Joaquin we care deeply for the whole family during one of the most difficult times in their life. We offer support for families with children on two fronts, we offer grief support opportunities for children in K-12 and, when the unimaginable happens, we have a highly trained pediatric care team that assures your child can live their life to the fullest.

We know that in the middle of a family crisis, children and their grief can sometimes get lost in the details. Our programs can help both kids and families cope better. We offer scheduled programs in the fall, winter and spring that use art, games and storytelling to help children express feelings and develop coping skills. Our Kids Korner is a special little “korner of the world” where grieving children in grades K-8 can share, heal, and grow in a safe, supportive atmosphere with their peers. Offered concurrently is our Teen to Teen program that gives high schoolers a place to discuss their unique feeling with peers who understand what they are experiencing. Movies, music, art and games enhance their time together. Both programs often have music and pet therapists there to help children through their grieving process.

Every September Hospice of San Joaquin holds Camp Caterpillar, a day camp experience for children in grades K-8 who have had a loved one die in the last two years. Activities include creative arts, journaling, games, storytelling, and music. Campers learn to express feelings, improve communication and learn coping skills. A special closing for campers and families is provided at the end of the day. Registration for this special healing resource opens in May and continues until shortly before the camp begins.

Grief often does not keep a schedule and can impact an entire community. Our Bereavement staff is available to lead grief support groups on local school campuses. These groups are arranged through school counselors or principals as the need arises. The groups typically last for 4-5 weeks and activities are tailored to meet the group’s needs. Short term or crisis intervention is also available to help schools

No family can ever prepare for a child’s terminal illness. If your child has an advanced or chronic terminal illness, we have services that can help ease your child’s discomfort and provide the emotional support you need as a caregiver and parent/Guardian. Our team will work with child’s current health care team and Physician. Maintaining these established relationships is key to providing the best possible pediatric hospice care. Hospice of San Joaquin is an extension of the health care team and are experts in the field of patient comfort and family support – working together your child will be comfortable and surrounded with compassionate care.

If you are struggling with grief and worried about it affecting your well-being and your family’s happiness, Hospice of San Joaquin offers support groups and workshops for adults working through various situations of grief. Year-round sessions are offered for those who have lost a spouse or partner, lost someone to suicide, and many other situations of grief. Special occasions can be especially hard after a loss so workshops for Mother’s day and the holidays are offered as well.

Hospice of San Joaquin is there for the whole family at every step of the way through the loss of a loved one and the grieving process. If your family or community would like some guidance at any point in the healing process simply reach out and we can help guide your journey. Remember that you are never alone, a support network is only a call or email away. Please reach us at (209) 957-3888 or For more information visit our website