Maddie’s Story

Kids Group had ‘almost immediate’ impact on Maddie as her family navigated tragedy

Grief can often feel unbearable and overwhelming, but when we talk about it and share our stories of loss, the grip of isolation and confusion can start to loosen.

For a child, sharing their stories of loss at a young age can change the trajectory of their grief, and of their life.

When Maddie’s father Rod died suddenly of a stroke in 2019, a knowing hand reached across the schoolyard to lead her and her family to the National Centre for Childhood Grief and its Kids Group program.

Another family at Maddie’s school had also experienced the death of someone close to them. They knew how “important and special” NCCG’s Kids Group could be.

Maddie said she was given a tool to help navigate the world without her dad from the very first sentence she said to the group.

“The one thing that came from it was just that very first step when you introduce yourself, your parent who has passed away, how long it’s been, and how they died,” she said.

“I think that was the biggest tool for me because that sentence that I say every single time I entered the group, every single time I met a new person, that was a sentence I’d reuse because of it.”

Maddie’s mother Sophie would attend a session for parents and admitted it felt “intense” for her, but she could see the “almost immediate” positive impact on her child.

“To get in the car and see your child that’s just had a really great couple of hours, that just blew me away, she was really, really on a high almost after the group [session], which was just so beautiful to see,” she said.

“And it could be the total opposite. You know, you think maybe you’ve just talked about your dad with your friends for two hours. It could be very depressing, but it was a total reverse.”

After three years of Kids Group, friendships and connections made, tools learnt and stories told, Maddie said she felt like she returned to her “bubbly self”.

She said even knowing the group sessions exist could be helpful to those facing all-consuming grief.

“I feel like if you try those first three, maybe even two group sessions, … you can go – well, I’m not alone,” she said.

“Even if it’s not for you, you still have that in the background that you know it’s there. Even if you feel like that again, you can try it again.

“And I feel like having it there is such an important thing.”