sister and brother had been shedding quite a few tears while grieving the loss
of two close family members.
But thanks in part to Memories Matter Bereavement Camp, they are doing better today.
Ronnie Bohley-Miller, 13, and her brother, Jonathan, 10, both of St. John, attended the camp last year. This year, their sister, Arlena Miller, 11, will join them.
The annual event is set for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the National Guard Armory at the Expo Grounds just west of Great Bend.
The University of Kansas Health System Home Health and Hospice created the bereavement camp and directs it each year for children dealing with the loss of loved ones. It is provided free of charge.
Ronnie (short for Veronica) and Jonathan lost their grandmother in September 2017. Jonathan’s dad, who also helped raise Ronnie, passed away in May 2016.
“We had been crying a lot,” Ronnie said. “And before the camp, I wasn’t listening in school. Now I can hear what the teacher is saying and I’m even getting A’s on my tests.”
Ronnie acknowledged that when she first heard about the camp, “I thought it was a bad idea. But I actually had some fun.”
Both youngsters agreed that knowing other people are going through a similar situation is helpful. “We’re not the only ones,” Ronnie said.
While Ronnie said that “the absolute best part” of the camp was creating memory boxes to hold mementos of her loved ones, Jonathan said he really enjoyed a floor game called “Hungry Hippo.”
These activities are just part of the day’s agenda. Others include music, art projects, games and a puppet show.
Jerry Driggers, Ronnie and Jonathan’s stepdad, recalled that his kids were “having such a hard time dealing with everything. They were not talking to anyone or interacting with people.
“I told them that sometimes it is good to talk with someone outside the family in similar situations. I thought it would help. And it did. They have opened up a lot more and learned how to deal with it better. The camp made a big difference, a big impression.”
Donita Wolf, Home Health and Hospice manager, noted that “children are often the forgotten mourners. At the camp, we can offer ways to help them cope with the emotions and adjustments.
“It is a heavy burden for children, but they learn their feelings are reflections of the love they have for the person who has passed. This has a profound impact.”
Wolf and her colleagues Chaplain Jeffrey Johnson and Social Worker Cathy Soeken will serve as facilitators at the camp. Volunteers also will be on hand.
For more information or to register for Memories Matter, contact Home Health and Hospice on the first floor of The University of Kansas St. Rose Medical Pavilion, 3515 Broadway. The phone number is 620-792-8171.