Unlocking Misconceptions with Draw It Out
“Children facing grief commonly experience “magical thinking,” that can impact them negatively.”
When three year old Brian shut the door just as his older brother Luke’s head collided with the knob, he didn’t realize what the result would be. Shortly thereafter, Luke was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It wasn’t until after he died, three years later, that Brian told anyone what had caused the tumor, and the person he told was Child Life Specialist Paige Fennessey.
She was playing a game with Brian’s stepsiblings in Draw It Out, our therapeutic activity book for kids experiencing grief, and Brian didn’t want to play. Paige let him simply stay in the room and encouraged him to look on as she continued playing and discussing how his siblings felt about losing their brother.
The next time she visited the family, Brian said that he felt guilty that Luke had died, since he caused the brain tumor with his doorknob. It wasn’t until the Draw It Out books came out and extra patience extended that Brian felt safe to share his story and the crushing guilt he’d felt since Luke became ill.
“Draw It Out made sharing his experience nonthreatening…”
When Paige explained that no, hitting his brother hadn’t caused cancer at all, it was just an unfortunate coincidence, she saw Brian lighten. He became more interactive, unafraid to say Luke’s name or talk about him. Paige says that Draw It Out made sharing his experience nonthreatening, and this is why she uses it so often with the children she sees in her work with Hospice.
Draw It Out and all of Art with Heart’s books are designed to help users understand just what’s going on in the minds of the children they’re working with, and understanding misperceptions is one crucial step on the road to healing. Brian spent way too long feeling guilty and afraid, but with Paige’s help and the safety she provided by using resources like Draw It Out, he could move forward in his grief.
Children facing grief commonly experience “magical thinking,” that can impact them negatively, just like what Brian went through. By gently correcting these thoughts, Paige was able to help Brian push through one of his roadblocks and into another stage of his grief. If it hadn’t happened now, while Brian was still very young, he might have lived many more years consumed with unnecessary guilt. We’re so grateful that Paige was able to help Brian open up, and honored that Draw It Out was part of her toolbox.