36% of Americans Don’t Feel Like Celebrating the Holidays This Year Due to Feelings of Grief and Loss, Finds New Experience Camps/Harris Poll Survey

Experience Camps Spotlights National Childhood Grief Awareness Month as 86% of Respondents Say "Grief Is an Important Mental Health Issue"

Westport, CT, Nov. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- (via NGO Wire) Feelings of grief and loss are already impacting the holiday season, with 36% of Americans reporting that, as a result, they don’t feel like celebrating the holidays this year, according to a recent Experience Camps/Harris Poll survey. That number rises to 42% of Gen Z (ages 18-24), 52% of Millennials (ages 25-40), and nearly half (49%) of Hispanic adults. Grief is an issue of concern nationwide, with 86% of Americans saying it should be addressed as an important mental health issue.

Experience Camps, a nonprofit that champions the nation’s 5.3 million bereaved children, today released a survey of over 2,000 US adults conducted on their behalf by The Harris Poll. The research kicks off the nonprofit’s annual Talk About Grief campaign, which is designed to help people better support grieving children and adults this holiday season. 

“It’s striking that 89% of Americans agree that everyone should learn to talk about grief, yet 70% don’t have the skills they need, saying they’re often unsure what to do or say when someone they care about is grieving,” said Sara Deren, founder and CEO, Experience Camps. “After more than 520,000 hours with grieving kids, we have a sense of what can help and what generally doesn’t. We encourage everyone to explore our growing video clearinghouse, which provides tangible, real-world ways to go beyond saying ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ which kids tell us isn’t enough.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Parents of children younger than 18 are markedly more likely than those without kids under 18 (48% vs. 30%) to say they don’t feel like celebrating the holidays due to a sense of grief and loss. “This highlights that the holidays aren’t a joyous time for everyone, and is why we’re sharing tips to help people cope,” said Deren. 
  • Millennials and Gen Z are far more likely than Baby Boomers (ages 57-75) to say they don’t feel like celebrating the holidays this year due to a sense of grief and loss (52% and 42% vs. 26%). “While many complex factors play into this, it’s notable that both Gen Z and Millennials are more than twice as likely as Boomers (35% each vs. 12%) to say they don’t see a benefit to talking about grief,” Deren observed. “This is among the many insights that warrant additional research.”
  • There is a notable racial and ethnic gap, with 49% of Hispanic adults saying they don’t feel like celebrating the holidays due to grief and loss vs. 32% of White non-Hispanic adults. 39% of Black adults agreed. 
  • Sentiment about grief and the holidays is relatively consistent across regions. 36% in the Northeast, 33% in the South and 38% each in the Midwest and West. 
  • Midwesterners (74%), Southerners and Westerners (71%) are more likely than those in the Northeast (61%) to say they often don’t know what to say or do when someone they care about is grieving. 
  • 47% of parents with children under 18 believe children are less impacted by grief after a death than adults are. “In fact, children can be just as affected by grief as adults. If not addressed, grief in childhood can lead to decreased academic performance and mental health issues, substance abuse and suicide – a fact that 89% of Americans consider a significant problem,” Deren said. “Yet, grief is a natural part of life, and the positive news is that it can lead to remarkable resilience.”

Photo Available: Experience Camps, A Look at Grief

One in five US children will experience the death of someone special, which 88% of Americans believe is a significant problem, the Experience Camps/Harris Poll survey found. The research is intended to help spotlight November as National Childhood Grief Awareness Month. 

The findings come on the heels of a CDC report that at least 140,000 US children have gone through the death of a parent or a custodial caregiver due to COVID-19. More than half (54%) of Americans in the Experience Camps/Harris Poll survey called this fact a “very significant” problem.

“I think grief has an awkward, let's-not-talk-about-this-at-the-dinner-table stigma around it, when really it's something everyone will experience in their life,” said Milena, a 16-year-old from Florida who has participated in Experience Camps programs since 2018. “Keeping your grief to yourself only makes it hurt worse but having open conversations about it with people you feel comfortable with really helps you break your shell and the negative stigma around grief itself. Talking about things like grief allows you to bond with others in a special way, which is always a beautiful feeling and experience.”

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Note to editors: children, parents, clinical experts and Experience Camps leadership are available for interview. Tips, videos, photos and infographics also available for publication.

Survey Method
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Experience Campsbetween October 26-18, 2021 among 2,035 US adults ages 18+. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Jennifer Aftanas, 902-488-5912 or jaftanas@purposecollaborative.com

Experience Camps is a nonprofit that champions the nation’s 5.3 million bereaved children and runs a network of no-cost camps that help grieving children thrive. With 10 locations that directly deliver no-cost services to youth, ages nine – 18, from 32 U.S. states, Experience Camps has spent more than 520,000 hours equipping grieving children with the confidence, coping skills and support to live a life full of possibility. 


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