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Kaumaha Helu ‘Ekolu

Helu ʻEkolu

Module Pathway


"Pupukahi i holomua."

Unite to move forward. By working together we make progress.


Hawaiian cultural knowledge, symbols,mo‘olelo, and rituals. Bringing forward traditional Hawaiian cultural practices and offering them as modern day solutions to grief and loss requires workers to understand, practice, and translate their meaning to kamaliʻi. LT has a wealth of culturally “wise practices” effective to help our grieving beneficiary children and their ‘ohana. Kaumaha‘Ekolu focuses on the purposeful use of Hawaiian cultural knowledge, symbols,mo‘olelo, and rituals to facilitate healing.

Worker Preparation

A family’s readiness to talk about the loss may be facilitated by the use of cultural symbols and rituals.  Many families hold positive memories about their deceased family member; however, this is not true for all families.  Families who are “not ready” to openly discuss their kaumaha might be helped by asking them to describe what they see and perceive in symbols and images.  Still, for families who are working on grief and loss, cultural symbols, mo‘olelo, and rituals can further their healing journey.

1) Photos:  Consider the photos on this site.  How might you intentionally use them to help your grieving ‘ohana?

(a) How does the child and/or parent describe the photos on this site (e.g., Wili Tree in Kaumaha ‘Ekahi)?

(b) How can you as the worker help the ‘ohana interpret the stories in terms of grief, loss, or healing?

(c) While we meet the ‘ohana where they are as shared through their stories, when do we assess for hope?  When and how do we talk about this with the ‘ohana?  How are rituals helpful at instilling hope?

(d) What common narratives exist in the child's and the parent’s story?  How might you assist them to bridge the narratives to help the ‘ohana as a whole?

2) Mo‘olelo:  How might mo‘olelo of our Ali‘i be helpful to a ‘ohana?  How did our Ali‘i deal with their grief and loss?  Below are some examples:

(a) Queen Liliʻuokalani.  Her loss encompassed many areas such as the loss of a nation, and the death of her brother and her husband.  What clues and hoʻailona are provided for us that suggest how the Queen overcame her losses through composition, embroidery, and the support of loving friends and family?  How did the Queen deal with her Kaumaha in the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation as implied in her speech while on trial for treason?

i.  Ke Aloha o Ka Haku (The Queen’s Prayer)

ii.  The Forgiveness Quilt

iii.  The Queen’s Story

— King Kalakaua’s Funeral Procession

— The Queen’s reflection on her husband’s death

— The Queen’s speech while on trial for treason

(b) King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma’s loss of their only son, the heir apparent, Leiopapa.  To read the story of Leiopapa’s sudden death and his parent’s grief reactions please click on this article written by Rhoda A.E. Hackler:  Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha: a Prince of Hawaii

Activities with the ‘Ohana


Often, sharing mo‘olelo and movies can be helpful tools for children and ‘ohana.  Many movies have been utilized by our workers such as Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and Whale Rider.  As an intentional practice, workers are encouraged to prepare kamaliʻi and ‘ohana before they watch the movie and remain emotionally available to them during and after its viewing as movies can facilitate re-experiencing emotional loss.  Therefore, debriefing with our families is always necessary.

In 2013, Wai‘anae Kīpuka created a video called Nalu’s Journey by Makalauna Feliciano with the kōkua of all unit staff. The video describes a young boy’s loss of his father. 

Nalu's Journey:


LT incorporates many symbols into activities to help our ʻohana.  In 2012, the Papawai Nurturing ‘Ohana Camp (PNOC) utilized the symbol of the lauhala as a way to help ‘ohana bond and heal.  According to the Papawai 2012 Papawai Nurturing  Ohana Camp Evaluation Report, the results of the camp were impressive.   The symbolic act of repairing a damaged lauhala mat triggered ‘ohana members’ awareness about the manner in which they were grieving.  For some, this increased awareness provided avenues to move toward healing, as illustrated in the mo‘olelo of this mother:

repairing a damaged lauhala mat

Papawai Camp 2012

“There, there’s times where you know it gets really hard for me and the boys and I’ll just look up and start screaming you (husband) could have been here helping me, what was the problem? Um, and you know for this last camp, the one thing that I saw was when we did that lauhala mat. … everything just fell into place. I think the three of us had gotten a lot more from that thirty minutes we had on that mat than we did through the whole two and a half years of going to different counselors and talking to people. And even the boys, they were talking and they were shedding tears at the same time.”