Drum Circle & Grief Camp Helps Youth Overcoming Loss

The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas’ operated its CAMP HEROES: Beyond the Walls grief camp for youth ages 13 to 19. At the camp, therapists and specialists from the Bereavement Center help youth who have lost a loved one work through the grieving process in a healthy way. One memorable moment included a vibrant, pounding drum circle. The camp was hosted at BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Westside Community Center from June 14 through 16.

The drum circle offered youth the opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions collectively through music. The drum circle facilitator — Laura Cavazos of The Children’s Bereavement Center — brought different styles of drums to the middle of the circle, asking the youth to pick one. She asked them to “get to know” the drum, holding and feeling it, learning the kinds of sounds it could make.

Then, she asked the youth to reflect on the emotions they felt when losing a loved one. Youth said things like “sadness,” “alone,” “confused,” “crying,” “anger,” and “hope.” Ultimately, Laura and the youth chose to focus on sadness, anger and hope.

Each emotion was the focus of a different turn in the circle, and each elicited a different rhythm from the circle. It was a powerful scene as the youth manifested their thoughts and emotions into the motions of playing the drums. As their collective drumbeats grew louder and louder, Laura would direct them to play a little softer, and then go back to playing louder, and then focus on only a section of the circle, and then incorporate the rest of the circle, and then direct them to stop. It was brilliant!

The whole session lasted about a half hour, and afterwards several of the youth looked especially energized and said the experience was fun.

About Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas: We believe that each person’s journey through grief is unique and therefore deserving of a distinctive approach to healing. Our goal is to help teens understand the depth of their grief and develop healthy coping skills after the death of loved one.