Thank you to Our Sponsors and Donors

WBC_2013_Sponsor_BannerThank you to our incredible list of sponsors who are dedicated to helping burn survivors and their families thrive after a burn injury!  It is because of their generosity that we are able to provide the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress program each year.

The support of 125 wonderful contributors has provided healing, hope and a connection to a national burn community for over 800 attendees!

Please take a moment and join us in thanking them.  Connect to their website and let them know how much you appreciate their support for making Phoenix Society’s 2013 World Burn Congress possible!

Talking to Children about Loss, Trauma and Traumatic Loss

Talking to Children about Loss, Trauma and Traumatic Loss

Megan Bronson PMHCNS-BC

  As parents we want to protect our children and we have difficulty seeing them sad or hurting. However, in order for children to heal after loss, trauma, sudden death and traumatic loss, they need to be able to express their feelings, have those feelings heard with compassion, and have their questions answered appropriately. The following are meant to be guidelines for parents and caregivers who are looking for some assistance in how to tell a child about a loss, sudden death, trauma or traumatic loss, how much to tell them and when to tell them. These guidelines need to be individualized to your child’s particular situation and also modified for their age, developmental stage, and individual capacity to hear about the details of a traumatic event and loss.

Blog Picture - Talking to Children about Loss Trauma

 To tell or not to tell: Choosing not to tell a child about a trauma or traumatic loss risks the child hearing about the event in an unsupported or even an insensitive manner, such as from an older child, the media, or gossip. The child may also overhear adult conversation that is confusing and perhaps intensely emotional from upset adults who are also impacted by the loss or trauma. Better that you, the parents or caregivers who know the child best set the tone, choose the place, and the context for informing the child. Another risk of not telling the child is that we risk losing the child’s trust when we withhold information from them that they need to make sense of a situation and their feelings. Children often feel lied to and betrayed when they are not provided timely information.

  1. Who should tell: It is best for the child to hear difficult news from a trusted caregiver   such as a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, older brother or sister as these will be   the people who will be having ongoing supportive contact with the child and can follow up with them.
  2. Setting the time and place: Choose a time that you are in control enough of your  own feelings so that you can focus on the needs of your child. It is fine for your child to see your tears, however, it is not beneficial for a child to have to end up comforting  a parent’s overwhelming emotion. Many children protect parents from their own grief  because they see that the parent is hurting and they do not want to add to that.  Choose a place that provides privacy so that your child doesn’t need to feel self conscious about expressing their feelings or tears.
  3. When and how to tell:  Because of the risk to trust and also the risk of the child hearing in an unsupported manner, it is better to inform the child as soon possible after the traumatic incident or loss in age appropriate, clear and simple  language.  Avoid providing too many details as this will overwhelm the child. An example of simple and clear information would be, “There was a bad accident, and Daddy was hurt so badly that they could not fix him and he died. We are all very hurt and sad and sometimes even mad and we will miss him very much.”  The truth spoken simply with kindness and compassion catalyzes the emotional healing process. Older children may be able to handle more details and will ask for them when they are ready. Allow children to express their feelings and to ask questions. Avoid judging feelings or trying to fix them–just hear them and respond to them with compassion and comfort.
  4. Plant the seeds for future discussions: “You may not feel like talking about this right now but when you are ready to talk or have more questions we can talk about how you feel and get answers to your questions when we are able to.”  Follow up with the child periodically to see if they have further questions or need to talk. Focused listening and physical comfort need not take large amounts of time but can be given even for fifteen or twenty minutes a day and have a profound impact on the child’s emotional healing.
  5. How many details should children hear? This depends on the age of the child, their individual and developmental readiness to process upsetting and particularly horrifying details. Ask yourself if the child really needs to know the details at this time or if this can wait until they are older and more able to process and integrate the details. Sometimes these details may not be appropriate to share until the child is in their late teens or young adulthood.
  6. Ways to help your child:
  • Avoid exposing children to television coverage of the traumatic event that          effected your family or coverage of any traumatic event
  •  Avoid having adult conversations about the traumatic event within                        earshot of the child
  • Find a support group for grieving children and families, such as Gilda’s Club,          Hospice,  Church, Community, or Hospital based Bereavement groups. You may      also choose to seek support from specialty groups such as cancer support            groups, burn survivor support groups, survivors of suicide or homicide,  a                  group for bereaved parents, (such as Compassionate Friends), etc. Contact the       community mental health agency in your area for available support groups.
  • Seek individual counseling as needed
  • Be aware of trauma symptoms in yourself and your child and seek professional help if these persist
  • Talk to the child’s teacher and school counselor and let them know what your           child is going through
  • Provide your child with paper, crayons, markers and other creative materials         such as play dough, fingerpaints and other expressive materials as these are natural and effective ways for children to express their feelings
  • Provide the child with outlets for their anger and frustration such as age                 appropriate physical activities
  • Take care of yourself–you deserve this and your child needs you

Excellent grief and trauma resources for Adults and Children: The Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and   Families Child Trauma Academy  Bruce Perry MD, PhD David Baldwin PhD.Trauma Information





The holiday season is often a time when people feel moved to express their gratitude for the blessings they have.  For burn survivors and family members, the holidays can be a mix of challenging circumstances and appreciation for the many people who have made a difference in their lives.  We would like to encourage you to spend a little extra time this season focusing on the positive and wonderful things around you.

Research is beginning to show that people who feel grateful are psychologically, emotionally and physically happier and healthier. They are more optimistic, have more energy, sleep better, get sick less often and are socially more outgoing.  We are also learning that the practice of gratitude helps with emotional healing; negative thoughts seem to pop up less when gratitude is practiced more.  And there’s more good news:  you can create habits that bolster gratitude and reap the resulting benefits.

The following activities will help you and your family to build your gratitude skills.  Choose one or two this holiday season and watch your own spirit of thankfulness and appreciation grow stronger and fuller.

CREATE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL:  Take time daily to write down at least three things from your day that you are thankful for.  For families, go around the dinner table and have everyone share one example of gratitude from the day.  For individuals, share a journal entry with a friend.

Thank You - heike - friend -small

GRATEFUL ACTS OF KINDNESS:  Practice exercising your appreciation by doing intentional acts of kindness.  Visit your local firefighters or burn center and take a plate of cookies.  Have the children draw pictures and send them to the burn center.


MAKE GOOD MEMORIES:  Intentionally make memories to be grateful for, with people you’re grateful for.  Take fun photos of yourself or your family, draw pictures of good memories from the year and hang them in the windows, post your favorite joke on _GRG7472  Facebook, write a blog, make a photo-book, send a hand written letter:  all ways to document experiences you’re appreciative of.  Share them with others.

 In the art of appreciation, from all of us at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, thank you for who you are and all you do!  We look forward to 2013 and are grateful to have you as part of the burn survivor community.  

Donor Spotlight: Buses by the Beach Provides Miles of Smiles to Burn Community

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It all started with a conversation in Brien Dews’ clock repair shop in Rockford, Michigan.

Dews, a burn survivor and long-time member of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, was speaking with friend Todd Olson regarding their mutual admiration of Volkswagen buses. After deciding to organize a charitable event involving fellow bus enthusiasts, they only had to decide on a charity to send any funds they raised.

“I told him ‘I have just the charity – the Phoenix Society,’” said Dews. Ten years later, Buses by the Beach has donated over $100,000 to the Phoenix Society, supporting burn survivors everywhere.

The group’s first event welcomed 12 buses, comprised primarily of family and friends. Now over 100 buses pour onto the Buses by the Beach grounds. The group has even created two spin-offs from its flagship gathering, a fall event before Halloween called ‘Bus BOO!’ and another during winter named the ‘Bus BRRR.’

Funds raised from each gathering provide community support, resources and tools offered through the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.

Speaking at the Buses by the Beach’s 10th anniversary in May, Lily Chatterjee thanked the group and shared what support from donors like those in attendance means to the life of a burn survivor.

Injured in a car accident in December of 1987, Lily shared that recovery is a long road and there were times she felt very alone.  She said that finding the Phoenix Society after attending its World Burn Congress program in 1997 gave her a family of support and the tools to live her new life as a burn survivor.

Your donation supports Phoenix Society programs that provide burn survivors with the tools and resources they need to thrive again

“I have needed the Phoenix Society for different things at different times in my recovery,” Lily said. “I attend World Burn Congress every year and still gain support.”

Stories like the one shared by Lily make the event that much sweeter for Dews.

“It’s very near and dear to me that burn survivors are able to benefit from this,” says Dews.

THANK YOU to Brien, Todd, and all that participate in Buses by the Beach events for your hard work in raising contributions and awareness that will give burn survivors the support and tools needed to thrive again!

Donate to the Phoenix Society and help burn survivors
everywhere get back to living

Learn more about Buses by the Beach at: