Candle Lighting Ceremonies Help South Florida Children and Families Express Grief and Remember Loved Ones Over the Holidays

01/05/2016

A collection of small and large candles lighted as part of the ceremony

MIAMI – VITAS Healthcare—the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care—in collaboration with the Children’s Bereavement Center (CBC), recently hosted their semi-annual candle lighting memorials for children and their families to honor loved ones who have passed away. Throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties more than 300 grieving families along with VITAS and CBC group facilitators gathered to participate in reflective candle lighting ceremonies, filled with live music and onsite activities.

Special Guidance for Children

VITAS knows that children need special guidance after losing loved ones, and the holidays can be an especially difficult time. Through its five year partnership with the CBC, VITAS’ specially trained bereavement specialists, also called facilitators, lead peer support groups for children, parents and caregivers. These groups help children and families cope with their loss and relieve the sense of isolation they may be feeling by enabling them to share their personal experiences in an environment where they feel most comfortable.

“As part of our commitment to helping patients and their loved ones at the end of life, VITAS is proud to be a partner of the CBC and backs its mission to support grieving children and families,” said VITAS Vice President of Operations Maureen Knips. “That’s why VITAS provides onsite support at three CBC South Florida locations and our facilitators are certified under CBC’s grief-support model to comfort grieving children.”

“Our partnership with VITAS has allowed us to grow and meet the needs of grieving families throughout South Florida,” said CBC Program Director Kathy Kramer. “With programs in Coconut Grove, Miami Shores, Doral and Davie we were able to support nearly 1300 participants last year. Our hope is that no child should have to grieve alone.”

A Proud Partner of the Children's Bereavement Center

The CBC offers free support groups in English and Spanish that are dedicated to providing support, education and resources to children, teens, young adults and their families. They also offer support groups to parents and/or caregivers who play a significant role in a child's life and adults dealing with personal loss, available at several convenient locations. VITAS facilitators provide support to children and families in Miami Shores, Fort Lauderdale and Doral at the following CBC locations: Miami Country Day School, NSU Mailman Segal Center and Miami Christian School.

VITAS facilitators are honored to be a part of the CBC’s team and are glad they can make a difference in the lives of grieving children and their families. VITAS social workers, chaplains and bereavement specialists host free grief support groups throughout South Florida. For more information about children’s grief counseling resources call the CBC at 305.668.4902 or visit www.childbereavement.org.

A dozen VITAS team members smiles at the event

Above: VITAS Healthcare’s specially trained bereavement specialists, also called facilitators, are certified under CBC’s grief-support model to comfort grieving children. From left to right, Social Worker Teresa Punzi, Home Care Nurse Maria Sequeira, Community Facilitator Carolina Scaramutti, Chaplain Charles Lowry, Social Worker Sylvia Vasquez, Community Facilitator Lynn Gelman, Community Facilitator Jenny Leon, Social Worker Carolina Rabin, Chaplain Fernando Hoffman, Patient Care Secretary Gladys Hernandez, Team Manager Rosario Alvarez and Social Worker & CBC Doral-Site Coordinator Maria Gomez on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, at the semi-annual Candle Lighting Memorial hosted by VITAS and the CBC.

The group of four women smiles at the event

Above: VITAS Senior General Manager Betty Bel, VITAS Social Worker & CBC Doral-Site Coordinator Maria Gomez, VITAS Vice President of Operations Maureen Knips and CBC Program Director Kathy Kramer on December 16, 2015 at the Candle Lighting Memorial held at Miami Christian School in Doral, Florida, hosted by the CBC and VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care.

Dozens of smaller candles and several large candles, which the children decorated

Above: Grieving children and families came out to the CBC and VITAS Healthcare’s Candle Lighting Memorials hosted throughout South Florida. Pictured is the candlelit memorial table filled with candles and their decorative covers that children designed to express their affection for loved ones who have passed away.

Five music therapists play guitar and sing, with candles in the foreground

Above: Pictured are VITAS music therapists who performed live at the Candle Lighting Memorial held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, for grieving children and their families hosted by the CBC and VITAS Healthcare—the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care.

Maria Gomez stands and speaks to the group

Above: VITAS Social Worker & CBC Doral-Site Coordinator Maria Gomez offers tips for coping with grief to children and families at the semi-annual Candle Lighting Memorial hosted by the CBC and VITAS Healthcare in Doral, Florida on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

Two children hold up a remembrance quilt they helped to make

Above: In honor of lost loved ones, grieving children and families designed and pieced together a remembrance quilt at the semi-annual Candle Lighting Memorial on December 9, 2015, hosted by VITAS Healthcare and the CBC in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

A girl holds a candle with a decorative cover honoring a loved one

Above: Children in South Florida created candle-covers at the Candle Lighting Memorial hosted by VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, and the CBC, the leading non-profit support group for grieving children, on December 16, 2015 in Doral, Florida as they shared memories in honor of their loved ones.

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