Our Child Bereavement Support service (known as Rowans Meerkat Service), offers specialist emotional support to children and young people who have a significant adult (such as a parent or grandparent) with a life-limiting illness, or who have been bereaved of an adult close to them. The experience of bereavement is often very isolating for children, and whilst many have the capacity to cope well with loss, feelings of loneliness, confusion, being different, and, not being understood by friends are common and can significantly impact a child’s self-esteem and development.
There are a variety of ways Rowans Meerkat Service can support families through their child’s bereavement, depending on each child’s individual needs, for example through regular group events and workshops. Recently some of our younger ‘Meerkats’ had a wonderful visit to the Crafty Chocolatier to take part in a chocolate-making workshop in the fully equipped Chocolate Snug Workshop. The children had the best time learning the science behind the chocolate and gained knowledge as well as tips and tricks from Kerry, a professional chocolatier.
During the workshops, the Meerkats enjoyed learning how to temper chocolate, which is the process of heating and (waiting patiently!) for the chocolate to cool. This process helps to create a glossy, smooth texture and a snap when you bite into it. It also helps to prevent the chocolate from melting too quickly, allowing it to hold its shape for longer periods of time.
The Meerkats used different Halloween-themed moulds to create white chocolate lollies and learned the art of piping, so they could decorate their ghoulish creations.
Whilst the workshop was all about having fun, it also provided a hugely important chance for the children to meet peers with similar stories of loss. This opportunity is invaluable and helps them to know they are not alone in their grief. These shared moments in group sessions lead to lasting friendships, which we love witnessing.
Sometimes, the children can be overheard sharing and comparing how long they have been ‘part of the Meerkats’. Although you would assume that words like this are said with sadness, they, in fact, are always spoken with pride and enthusiasm. It is true that these children are part of a group that no one wishes them to need, but we are grateful to offer such a valuable service to young people, making them feel supported, understood, and no longer different.
Recently, the Meerkats also played Laser Quest together. Without suggestion, some of the Meerkats spoke to each other about who had died in their family – again, this highlighted their desire to share their experiences. Of course, there was also a lot of shouting, running around and laughing involved. Seeing this level of fun and silliness, an onlooker would never guess the trauma these children have encountered.
The Rowans Meerkat Service is able to accept referrals where a family is currently receiving, or has previously received, care from the Charity. If you would like to speak to someone from the Rowans Meerkat Service, please call: 023 9224 8025.