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Helping Kids Navigate Loss with Lionheart Camp for Kids

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20th June 2024

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About this episode

Just imagine being a young child, navigating through the unimaginable loss of a loved one. Feelings of isolation, confusion, and profound sadness can be overwhelming, right? 

Now imagine a place where these children can come together, share their experiences, and learn that they aren't alone in their grief. 

This week on 'Don't Be Caught Dead', I, Catherine Ashton, bring you a conversation with two inspirational women who are doing just that.

Shelly Skinner, founding director and CEO of Lionheart Camp for Kids, and Lauren Breen, a professor at Curtin University specialising in the psychology of grief and loss, join me to share their incredible work. 

At the Lionheart Camp, children, teens, and adults are given the space and support to understand and process their grief. Shelley's vision - to ensure all children are provided with the necessary care after losing someone close - is a mission she carries out with absolute dedication.

Lauren, with her focus on understanding grief experiences and promoting grief literacy, brings the academic perspective, providing insights on how grief impacts individuals and families. Together, they published "What Bereaved Children Want to Know About Death and Grief" in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Their work is creating a ripple effect, paving the way for a more accepting and understanding society where grief is seen as a normal part of life, rather than a taboo.

Remember; You may not be ready to die, but at least you can be prepared.

Take care,


Show notes

Guest Bio
Podcast Guest - Image
Shelly Skinner

Founder and CEO of Lionheart Camp for Kids

Shelly Skinner, Founder and CEO of Lionheart Camp for Kids and Senior Social Worker at Perth Children’s Hospital is recognised for her psychosocial expertise in the areas of dying, death, grief, and loss. Having worked in the Grief and Loss field for more than 20 years in Australia and the United Kingdom, 

Shelly was awarded the John Curtin Medal in 2020 for her work supporting WA’s grieving children and families, a Westfield Local Hero award in 2021 and was a finalist in the Hesta Impact Awards 2022.

Skilled in Grief Counselling, Leadership, Social Innovation, Bereavement, Grief and Loss Care, Shelly has a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from The University of Western Australia.





Professor Lauren Breen, Discipline Lead – Psychology, Curtin School of Population Health,  Curtin enAble Institute, Curtin University

Lauren is internationally recognised for her psychological expertise in the areas of dying, death, grief, and loss. She achieved the status of Fellow of Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (USA), and is a member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement.

She has received over $4 million in research grants including a prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Awards to explore family caregiving and bereavement. She has authored over 170 book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. She edited, along with Carrie Traher, the Routledge International Handbook of Child and Adolescent Grief in Contemporary Contexts.


Lauren regularly delivers invited seminars, webinars, and workshops on grief and end of life care to psychologists and other health professionals. Additionally, the knowledge she has developed has informed the planning and implementation of guidelines, policies, curricula, and practices around the world.


Key points discussed in this episode include:

  • The founding of Lionheart Camp for Kids and its mission
  • The importance of normalising grief and providing a supportive community for kids dealing with loss
  • Shelly's personal experiences with loss, which drove her to create the camp
  • The research and writings of Lauren Breen on the psychology of grief and loss
  • The significant role of education and peer support in coping with grief



Why do kids bully me at school? What do you mean when a body dies? How does it actually die? Why do I feel tired all the time? Or why can't I sleep? Or why am I so sleepy? Or why is my tummy sore? Or how do I come across as normal to other people? How do you handle the big feelings? Those kinds of things. And then the bigger existential questions. So what is the meaning of life or what is even the point of living if you just have to die? Why do some people who are sick get better and other people who are sick don't get better and they die? So ... Read More



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