At our virtual C.A.N.D.Y. Café we help young people talk about difficult concepts and navigate through challenging questions about dying, death, and grief. Our curated process for interacting with young people and our policies of safe space, inclusion, and respect for diversity, make C.A.N.D.Y. Cafe a program adults and young people can trust.
Our Curated Process
First and foremost, we listen to the young people to understand their thoughts and questions. Next, we help them name their emotions, and, where required, we empower them to problem-solve.
Why should a young person attend C.A.N.D.Y Café?
It’s instinctual for adults to want to protect young people from experiences of death and grief. But given how often they encounter death in their world through novels, movies, video games, and the experiences of others, if we don’t answer their questions or listen to their fears, they can feel isolated and be susceptible to misinformation.
By having healthy conversations around death, young people will be better prepared to process loss and grief. C.A.N.D.Y Café is one step on a long journey towards open communication and being comfortable with these natural parts of life.
Curious about the C.A.N.D.Y Café but don’t know where to start?
Attend a Learning Night and learn more about how it can be helpful to you & a young person in your life.
My child has never experienced death or grief, can they attend the Café?
Yes. C.A.N.D.Y. Café was actually designed for young people who have not experienced the death of a loved one yet. Our program was intended to be proactive. However, we also welcome young people who are grieving.
What kind of questions do children have about death?
The questions are varied and fall under numerous categories from amusing to profound to emotional.
We have heard such questions as:
Why do we die?
How can I help my friend whose Dad died by suicide?
Will my parent die?
How can I keep my memory of my grandfather alive?
Whatever the questions, we take the time to listen, validate their emotions, provide information, and empower the young people to problem-solve.
Who Conducts the Café?
Our C.A.N.D.Y. Café Team is led by Terri Viola-Wilson, a parent and retired educator. With over 30 years as a teacher, coach, and mentor, she has helped children of all ages understand complex and emotional issues.
For the past two years, she has been Program Manager for C.A.N.D.Y Café. She’s continuously learning about how young people experience grief, how to best communicate with them about dying and death, and how to help other adults support the young people in their lives when it comes to dying, death, and grief.
Our facilitators have undergone hours of training specifically for C.A.N.D.Y. Café and, along with Terri, are committed to continuing to learn from new research and participant feedback.
What happens at a C.A.N.D.Y Café?
Our facilitators divide Cafe events into five steps. This helps to structure the content and give the youth time to engage with the ideas.
The first thing we do is gauge the thoughts and feelings of everyone in attendance by asking them to anonymously post on our Jamboard. We continue to do this at various points of the session.
We’ll watch a quick video that illustrates some of the feelings and topics we may explore during the cafe.
We find watching something first helps the youth enter the right headspace.
We open our first non-judgmental, peer-led conversation about what they heard and saw. Each group has a trained Facilitator. Depending on the enrollment, we divide the participants up into groups of no more than six.
Talking to Adults
After a short break, we focus on how to communicate with adults about dying and death. We explore ways young people can facilitate conversations about dying and death with the adults in their life so the lines of communication remain open.
Healthy grieving practices are our final topic before we invite the adults to join in the last 20 minutes of the session. Using C.A.N.D.Y. Cafe’s own “Good Grief for Young People” document, we discuss the importance of accepting grief emotions as well as how to ensure that the harshest emotions are not the ones that remain with us.
What About Parents and Guardians?
The adults who register the young person are encouraged to attend an online Death Café (Death Cafe for Parents and Guardians). With a group of their peers, they can explore their own feelings and experiences related to death and grief. At Death Cafes, parents and guardians can learn how to support a young person who might have questions about death or be experiencing grief.
Want to Support C.A.N.D.Y Café but Aren't Sure How?
By supporting C.A.N.D.Y. Cafes in whatever way you are able, you are opening the door to help kids and their families share concerns and ideas about dying, death and grief. Is this an appropriate conversation for young people? Absolutely! In fact, their mental health might depend on it.
CANDY Cafes are unique to the Home Hospice Association. By donating to C.A.N.D.Y. Cafes, you can help us deliver this program to young people across Ontario.