Supporting Grieving Children in the time of COVID-19

PatchSA, the South African national charity for children’s palliative care, reports they have experienced an overwhelming response to the latest Patch Academy online course on supporting grieving children; a course created in response to the present COVID-19 pandemic that has left many thousands of bereft children in its wake, has been enthusiastically received.

South Africa remains in the midst of dealing with the catastrophic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic while facing the very real possibility of a third wave and of new and stronger viral mutations. With already over 55,800 deaths of mostly adults, many thousands of children and grandchildren have been left grieving in the wake of this crisis.

In a country still struggling to control the epidemics of TB an HIV resulting in many thousands of children losing parents, we are now faced with a pandemic where a large percentage of deaths occur among people over 65 years of age. This means that children are now also losing grandparents who, in many cases, have been primary caregivers.

Endorsement and accreditation 

The latest Patch Academy course Supporting Grieving Children in the Time of COVID-19 is designed to provide both theoretical and practical advice and information on how to deliver appropriate support to grieving children.

The course has been endorsed by Dr Welly Hollander, Medical Social Worker and Narrative Therapist who writes: “I would recommend this informative and relevant course to family members, grieving communities and bereavement counsellors. The course describes the realities of children and teens who grieve and a loved on during COVID-19. The information is comprehensive, practical, and needed in a time that many of our children experience losses to their lives.”

PatchSA is also pleased to announce that the course has been assigned 2 General and 2 Ethics Continuing Education Units (CEUs) by The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa for the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programme of the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Introductory offer

As an introductory offer, the course can presently be done free of charge, an offer that will end on 1 June 2021 after which it will cost R250. It is appropriate study material for anyone concerned or connected with children and adolescents affected by the death of loved ones, whether through COVID-19 or not, and who wants to be better equipped to support them and help them develop resilience through loss. The course is highly relevant for parents, teachers, health care providers, caregivers, and spiritual leaders.

Touched a nerve

Tracy Rawlins, PatchSA Training Manager and lead creator of the course said this week, “It is clear that this course has ‘touched a nerve’ and spoken to a very real need. We have been overwhelmed at the number of people registering to take the course every day. Within just three weeks of its launch we’ve had over 130 people register for the course, including numerous teachers, social workers, counsellors and health care personnel. We hope that once they have completed the course, they will feel better equipped to help bereaved children find ways to safely hold and honour their memories and their grief while building strength and resilience.”

Positive reviews received from those who have done the course include:

“I liked that it was interactive, the quizzes helped me to see how well I am learning and to go back and re-read. I especially like the videos and links; it adds so much substance to the course.” Renesha Bhikraj

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, even though it is on an extremely difficult topic. I think it was well handled and I really enjoyed the extra readings given.” Deborah King (Teacher)

“I believe that it needs to become a compulsory course for all teachers in South Africa to attend as we have become the closest form of support for families and children who are grieving.” Minda Franzsen (Teacher)

Effects of loss in early childhood

Those who study childhood development are aware of the often traumatising and harmful effects on babies, children, and adolescents when they lose a parent or a primary caregiver. If not provided with adequate emotional support, this damage can manifest throughout their lives in poor school performance, unhealthy relationship choices, and unstable mental health.

When these same children receive the nurturing care of confident and reassuring adults from within their family, close friends and communities, they can be helped to cope with their loss and learn to be resilient. We encourage anyone who interacts with a child suffering loss due to COVID-19 to register and take this online course.

While created for a South African audience, the content is applicable to anyone who is caring for grieving children and the course can be accessed from anywhere with reasonable internet speed. To find out more about this and other courses on children’s palliative care and to register, please visit the Patch Academy website at

Add a Listing

Fill in the form below and we'll verify the posting and add to the Map.