Chapter 4Grief and Loss Across the Life SpanChildhood and Adolescence CHAPTER SUMMARYFactors in addition to age and developmental stage are important influences in the reactions of children and teens to loss. While most of the research on grief reactions in childhood and adolescence has focused on grief in reaction to death, information about internal and external influences can be extrapolated from this research and applied to children experiencing symbolic losses such as divorce and foster care placement. Modeling of grief management by families, cultural and spiritual influences, and the increasing influence of the Internet and telecommunications in the lives of children and teens are important to consider when working with grieving children and adolescents. Common reactions to loss at different stages of development as well as strategies to assist with grief reactions have been outlined. While witnessing loss and grief in children and adolescents can be extremely painful, there are tremendous rewards in providing information and support to them while facilitating their coping, as indicated in our case examples. With the knowledge and skills you are gaining while utilizing this textbook, I hope that you will experience these rewards in the future, if not already. CORE COMPETENCIES IN THIS CHAPTERCompetencies in bold are addressed significantly in this chapter.
|ProfessionalIdentity||Ethical Practice||Critical Thinking||Diversity in Practice||Human Rights& Justice|
|ResearchBased Practice||Human Behavior||Policy Practice||Practice Contexts||Engage, Assess, Intervene, Evaluate|
- Identify the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence
- Understand the developmental factors that influence grief reactions in childhood and adolescence
- Identify factors in addition to developmental stage that influence the reactions of grieving children and adolescents at different stages of development
- Identify strategies that professionals can use to facilitate coping in grieving children and adolescence at different stages of development
SUGGESTED DISCUSSION PROMPTS
- Discuss what settings you plan to work in in the future and in what context you might encounter grieving children or adolescents in these settings.
- Discuss what, if anything, in the reading that surprised you about grief in early childhood (infants, toddlers and preschoolers)?
- Discuss what you believe will be the most challenging aspects for you as a helping professional when encountering grieving children or adolescents
- Based on what you have learned about grief reactions in adolescents, what are some ways that you can prepare yourself or the organization you work in (now or in the future) to support grieving adolescents?
SUGGESTED CHAPTER ACTIVITIES AND ASSIGNMENTS
- Exercise 1: Identifying resources for children and families
- The Internet is the fastest growing source of information about grief as well as other life experiences. To test this you could type the keyword grief into your favorite search engine. (More than 3 million hits were identified in my recent search). There is no question that the current and future generations of children will be accessing information and social support independently and in a way never experienced by previous generations, through the virtual world. They will even have an opportunity to test out identities, ways of behaving and interacting through the virtual world (e.g. Second Life). With access to millions of web sites, blogs and social networking forums, it will become increasingly difficult for parents to monitor children’s interactions and for both children and parents to know which sources of information are the most credible and
- In the Internet Resources for this chapter, you will find selected Websites that are used frequently by both professionals and To learn more about grief reactions at different stages of life and about what information is available, try the following activity.
- Select an age group/developmental stage that is of particular interest or relevance to you (e.g. early childhood, ages 4-6)
- Create your own archive or database of useful web sites and articles that address grief and loss. You may want to create a system for saving information into topic areas such as Death of a parent, divorce, Pet loss, etc. You can use a bookmark function on your computer or save the information to a hard drive or
- If you are completing activity as part of a classroom exercise, you can divide into small groups, with each member taking responsibility for researching and archiving information on a specific grief-related topic. You can then compile your information to share with the entire
- Begin by visiting the links listed in the Internet Resources for this chapter and reading the information posted on a given topic at each of the sites. You might then use a search engine to see what children or parents would likely find if they were seeking information. Discuss with your classmates which sites are most useful and/or potentially problematic and
- Save your file or database and add to it as you continue in your career development.
- Customizing a grief workbook for your clients
- There are many workbooks and activities designed to help grieving individuals of all ages, including children and adolescents. Conduct an Internet search and review some of these workbooks. Think about how the activity pages (such as having children draw a picture of their family before a death occurred and a picture of their family after the death occurred) might be useful to your clients. Consider how you might construct a customized workbook for a child or adolescent client who is grieving, using some of the ideas from the workbooks you review. For example, one student who was working in an adolescent psychiatric unit created a workbook using word documents with graphics inserted, such as a picture frame, and used it to facilitate discussions with her clients about their experiences with loss and their feelings about it. Choose a child or adolescent client from your own caseload or from the readings and videos for this course and construct or adapt an activity that might be included in a workbook or support group to help them in their process of grieving either a symbolic loss (such as a divorce) or a death. If you and your peers exchange these activities, you will have a nice variety of potential tools to use with clients in the
- Select a video from the recommended list below to view. As you view it, make note of the grieving child or adolescent in the video and compare their reactions to the common reactions described in the text for the developmental stage he/she is in. Write 3-5 page paper about the character’s grief reactions and discuss the strategies that might be used by family and helping professionals to assist the character with the grieving
- Videos: My Girl, Soul Food, the Squid and the Whale, Terms of Endearment
SUGGESTED TEACHING TIPS
Students often engage easily with the topic of grief in childhood and adolescence, since many have experienced losses or known people close to them who have experienced loss in childhood and adolescence. The Internet search activity suggested for this chapter is usually very compelling for students and they can expand it to include YouTube videos or blogs that address grief in childhood and adolescence. If you have recommended students keep a journal, ask them to use the journal to talk what reactions are likely to be elicited in them through their encounters with grieving children and adolescents. If you have not assigned a journal, you might suggest they write a reflective paper on this topic to provide encourage self- reflection and self-awareness.
ASSESSMENT FOR IN-CLASS USE
The following assessment has been created for in-class use. This assessment may be available through Pearson’s MyTest website—allowing for easy access for creating your own tests. This assessment may also be offered in a Blackboard/Angel/D2L/WebCT package. Please contact your local Pearson sales representative to learn about the options available. Visit, http://www.pearsonhighered.com/replocator.
Multiple Choice Questions
Difficulty: 1 = Easy; 2 = Medium; 3 = ChallengingChoose the BEST possible answer for each of the following.1. At which stage of development are children generally thought to understand the finality of death?a. Age 3-6b. Ages 6-9c. Ages 9-12d. AdolescenceAnswer: c Difficulty: 1Competency: Human Behavior2. Modeling direct and constructive expression of feelings related to loss can be helpful to children ages 6-9 because of which of the following?a. They are usually unable to understand the finality of deathb. They usually deny death or avoid asking questions about itc. They are striving for mastery in physical, cognitive and emotional developmentd. They are too young to participate in funeral and memorial servicesAnswer: c Difficulty: 1Competency: Engage, Asses, Intervene, Evaluate3. Until approximately what age do children still evidence magical thinking related to death?a. 3 yearsb. 6 yearsc. 9 yearsd. 12 yearsAnswer: c Difficulty: 1Competency: Human Behavior4. At what stage of development is the use of the word “died” instead of euphemisms such as “gone to sleep” or “we lost her ” strongly recommended to reduce confusion about the permanence of death?a. 3-6 yearsb. 6-9 yearsc. 9-12 yearsd. 12-18 yearsAnswer: B Difficulty: 1Competency: Engage, Asses, Intervene, Evaluate5. Which of the following is a strategy that can assist grieving pre- adolescents?a. encourage them to “act their age”b. connect them with an internet article to readc. Provide physical outlets for strong emotionsd. Accept and promote regressionEssay QuestionsAnswer: C Difficulty: 1Competency: Engage, Asses, Intervene, Evaluate
Answer: C Difficulty: 1Competency: Engage, Asses, Intervene, Evaluate
- Drawing on developmental theory, describe why and what types of bereavement support groups are helpful for adolescents. (Key concepts that should be included in the student’s answer: Peer relationships are important to adolescents and groups reduce the sense of isolation that bereaved teens can experience)
- Given that the death of a parent is accompanied by many symbolic losses, identify the types of symbolic losses that are likely impacting Antony, the case example described in this chapter of a 9 year old boy placed in kinship foster care with his grandmother after the sudden death of his mother.
Doka, K.J. (1995). Children mourning, mourning children. Washington, DC: Hospice Foundation of America.Corr, C.A., Nabe, C. M., & Corr, D.M. (1997). Death and dying, life and living. 2nd ed., Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.Christ, G. (2000). Healing children’s grief: Surviving a parent’s death from cancer. New York: Oxford University Press.Kagan, R. (2004). Rebuilding attachments with traumatized children: Healing from losses, violence, abuse, and neglect. (NY: The Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press).Rando, T. (1984). Grief, dying and death: Clinical interventions for caregivers. Champaign, Illinois: Research Press Company.Worden, J.W. (1996). Children and grief: When a parent dies. New York: The Guilford Press.
Horsley, H., & Patterson, T. (2006). The effects of a parent guidance intervention on communication among adolescents who have experienced the sudden death of a sibling. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(2), 119-137.
The National Cancer Institute provides information about grief reactions at different ages at. http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/pdq/supportivecare/bereavement/patientWashington State Department of Social Services ( 2009). A behavioral health toolkit for providers working with children of the incarcerated and their families. http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/dbhr/youthtxtoolkit.pdfThe Children’s Hospital of Iowa hosts a virtual children’s hospital with articles on many topics including children’s grief at http://www.vh.org/pediatric/patient/pediatrics/cqqa/grief.htm Both the Hospice Foundation of America and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization are excellent sources of information about grief and resources that may be available through your community hospice programs. http://www.hospicefoundation.org/grief/guilt.htm, http://www.NHPCO.org There are many organizations to support grieving children and their families which post information on their web sites. Examples of these include: http://www.dougycenter.org, http://www.thefrontporch.org, http://www.thegarden.org There are many commercial and non-profit Internet sites that offer information and support to people of all ages who are grieving. Some of these are constructed by grief experts and some are not. http://www.death- dying.com/, http://www.journeyofhearts.org/jofh/grief/help2