Helping children deal with death

At Mercy Care Hospice's Camp Happy Hearts, the screams of laughter and smiles show the kids at the event are no different than any other, but their words show so much more.

"My dad died," said 11-year-old Arionna Stevens. "It's been really hard."

In January, Arionna lost her father in an accident at home.

"I don't like remembering that he's gone," said Arionna. She said she often makes believe her father is just overseas and not at home.

Arionna was just one of dozens of kids at Christ United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach dealing with the tragedy of losing a loved one.

"It's hard for them to comprehend the fact that the person will no longer be there in any shape or form," said Tom Badurski, Director of Children's Programs at Mercy Care. "It's just the loss in general that is really difficult for them."

Badurski said the camp helps children overcome.

"Sometimes it's hard to tell if a kid is depressed or truly down," said Badurski. "They deal with it a little different than adults do, but just the fact that they are not as happy and laughing is the most difficult part."

It's been said that time heals all wounds, but Badurski said for children that often is not the case. It takes time and other events, like Camp Happy Hearts, to let them know it's okay to laugh and have fun again.

"They see their mother or father or other family members that are sad and crying so this give them the opportunity to get away from that environment and have a good time."

For children like Arionna, the camp is a step on the long road of acceptance, and it shows she's not alone.

"There's other kids in the world that have lost their fathers or mothers and they're going through the same thing," said Arionna.

Showing you don't have to be a grown up to be brave.