Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Losing a Parent

The ultimate loss for a child is the loss of a parent.   Thousands of children lose their parents and are in dire need of care and counseling.  Some children lose one parent, while others lose both and face even greater alterations in their life.  Hence in addition to the initial tragic loss and shock, there are waves of other secondary losses that affect the child.  They continue to burn into the heart of the child and without care, can become emotional scars that never heal.

One must look at this type of loss from numerous angles.  While the loss itself is terrible, there are numerous subjective elements to consider.   Age is one of these things.  The age of the child and the child’s comprehension of the loss play a key role.  The younger the child is, the least traumatic the loss will be, while the older the child, the more the loss will affect them.  Memories will be more numerous and the sting of the loss will take my adjustment.   Depending on the child’s reasoning capabilities, some younger children with memories may even blame themselves with imaginary thinking that they may have caused their parent or parents’ death.  This is why it is so key to discuss the loss in relation to the child’s age and their mental capability.

Children at different ages face different challenges when losing a parent. Ultimately the loss is forever for any age but how it is experienced can differ

 

In this particular case, we will imagine a little girl, named Kelly, who lost her mother at age 9.   This will allow us to focus more on a case study and what to expect.  At the age of 9, Kelly will have definitive memories and also a traumatic break from her mother.   It is important to allow her to grieve this initial loss.  It is very important to understand her thinking regarding the loss.   At age 9, she understands the finality of death.  One does not need to speak in analogy, but it is important to be very cautious in explaining the spirituality of death.  Some children will not understand why God or heaven took their mother.  Hence, it is very important to use very concrete language that explains the loss.   One can illustrate that mother is in heaven, but to articulate that God wanted mommy in heaven, or other such language should be avoided.

It is also important to illustrate to Kelly that the loss of her mother is not her fault.  Some children will associate wishful or imaginary thinking as having true power.  For instance, if a child was angry at a parent and exclaimed or thought something horrible happening to a parent, they will then associate their thought with the actual event even though they do not tie together.  It is important to dispel such imaginary thinking to avoid future guilt complexes in the child.

In regards to Kelly, it is also crucial to ensure her wishes to participate in funeral rites are respected.  Many individuals look to shield a child from the loss of a parent.  They prevent the child from attending the funeral.  It is crucial for the child to participate to her comfort level in the funeral rites.  The finality is critical and the support received is equally critical.  Kelly will need to be able to say goodbye to her mother and also share in the social grief with family.   She needs to see that tears are important and that grieving is important.

Following this initial loss, she will grieve.  She will continue to grieve.  She will need her father and family to comfort her.  There will be things no-one can ever replace that mommy did.  As time proceeds, she should be encouraged to remember her mother and remember her life.  She can frame special pictures or create small shrines to her mother.  These are all important steps in adjusting to the loss over time.  These steps do not come quick though and require time.

The loss will never truly ever leave.  There will be reactions of anger and frustration towards others.  There will be days worst than others.  Birthdays and holidays will sting.  Life events will always haunt her as other girls have their mother for prom, wedding day or the birth of a child.  The loss can be reborn in small but yet still painful ways via events.

Ultimately, the loss will always be tragic but the key is to help Kelly adjust to the loss in a healthy way and continue her life and share the love of her mother with others through memories and stories.

The same holds true for an older child.  A teenage girl can suffer as well.  The memories are stronger and more numerous as the child ages.  There is more than just a faint memory of not having a “mother” at a life event, but the one visually sees their mother herself.  The sting will be more current because the person is older.  As a teenager, the loss of a parent can trigger also other multiple issues with drinking and other bad behaviors.  Teens have a difficult time due to the many changes already occuring in their lives.  The transition can be very difficult and a loss can totally send a life into a tail spin.

Teenagers face challenges when losing parents or a parent. Teens need special counseling when a parent dies

 

Take for instance Judy, who lost her mother at age 15.  With high school, becoming a woman, and dating boys, the need of a mother figure and losing her can be devastating for Judy.  Judy could possibly go into a deep depression if her emotional needs are not met.  In addition, she may exhibit a different type of guilt.  She may have fought with her mother or at times not appreciated all her mother did for her.  This can create a stinging type of guilt in her soul.

In addition, she may become resentful to her mother for leaving her, or resentful to her father, especially if a few years later he dates.  She could become very angry towards any attempts to have her mother replaced.   Furthermore as she experiences more life events, the fresh face of her mother will haunt her more than Kelly, who at age ten may have only distant vague memories.

So we have a multitude of scenarios.  We can experience the loss from the eyes of a 9 year old in Kelly, or even through the eyes of Judy a 15 yr old teen.  Then others may never know their parents.  Their mother or father may pass while they are babies and never have the experience to know their parents.  The loss of never knowing or meeting their parent may exhibit a type of grief of never having or possessing them in their lives.

So while numerous scenarios can exist in the loss of a parent, there remains one universal loss.  The loss of a parent is pivotal to the very existence of any child at any age.  In some way, the loss of a parent takes away a fundamental element of growing up and becoming an adult.  Even as an adult, the loss can still sting as adults mourn the lack of their parents in their own children’s lives.

The loss of a parent is forever but in time one can learn to remember in healthy ways. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

 

While children and adult children will eventually adapt to life without their parent or parents, the loss still always haunts.  It will never be the same but the love can still be remembered.  Through memories, story telling and sharing, the life of a parent can still shine for others.  Legacies can be pushed forward and shared.  Values or ideals can be instilled in others.  While the loss is forever, the bond and love between parent and child is forever–and that can never die.

 

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

 

Mark Moran

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Grief and the Loss of a Mother

The loss of a mother for a child alters the child’s life permanently.   Grief Counseling and a strong family life is important for the child to cope and adapt to life without his or her mother.

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals

The article, “Children Mourning the Loss of a Mom” by Mike McEnaney looks at the loss of a mother and the difficulties children have mourning the loss of their mother.  How to deal with this type of loss is difficult but varies depending on the age.  The article states,

“Grief takes on many forms, sometimes it’s sad and sometimes it can be powerful and lifechanging as well. For Aidan the spirit of his Mom is alive within him and that mutual love has been a force in his life. That love is in a lot of places if you take the time to look.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

 

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Training Article on Child Grief

Child grieving is unique and different than adult grieving.  Child grief is multi dimensional based on the child’s age and maturity.  Children grieve differently and understand reality and death and loss differently.  Due to this, it is critical to discuss loss with children and expose them to the reality of it in a good way.

It is important to understand children and how they grieve. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article, “How to Help a Child Cope With Grief” by Jen Chesak looks deeper into how one can better discuss loss and grief with children.  She states,

“Let’s be real. Grief is tough enough for adults — even though we understand that death is an inescapable part of life. The loss of a loved one is never easy, regardless of our age. That’s why when it comes to explaining grief to kids, we can get a big knot in our throat.”

To learn more about child grief and loss and to read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Training and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Helping Children with Loss of Parent

Children who lose a parent need guidance, counseling and care.  The loss of a parent is a permanent loss that has life long implications for a child and it is important a child receives emotional support.  Children need to learn how to adjust to life but also still be secure.

Helping a child deal with the loss of a parent is a difficult thing. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article, “How To Help Children Handle Grief After The Death Of A Parent” by Kelsey Borresen states,

For bereaved children dealing with the loss of an important figure like a parent, these intense feelings can be particularly hard to process. Kids need their surviving parent, caregivers or the other trusted adults in their lives to help them navigate the murky waters of grief.

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.

 

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Teaching Loss to a Toddler

Explaining death to a toddler can be difficult.  Children throughout their development require certain explanations about loss.  Much of this is based on their understanding and comprehension of loss.  Toddlers and their feelings still need addressed.  They will notice the loss and need reassurance.

Teaching a toddler about death and loss is important
Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article, “How To Explain Death To A Toddler, According To An Expert — Because It’s Just Part Of Life” by Jennifer Parris states,

“Forget about the birds and the bees. The talk that most parents dread having with their small children is the one about death. It’s an uncomfortable subject that many people don’t want to deal with, much less try to talk to a child about. I mean, how do you really explain death to a toddler? It’s a subject that none of us truly understands in the first place.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Death can be difficult to discuss but it is important to address loss even with a toddler.  Learning how to express death and explain it is important.  Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

 

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Explaining Miscarriage

Miscarriages can be very confusing for children expecting a baby brother or sister.   Parents need to be able to explain the loss in a logical way to the child.  How to go about explaining loss can be difficult but it needs to be done in a sensitive but informative way

Explaining a miscarriage to a child can be difficult. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article,  “How to Talk to Your Kid About Miscarriage” by Meghan Moravcik Walbert states,

“Despite how common miscarriage is, those who go through it often find it to be a painfully isolating experience. It frequently happens before the expectant mom or couple have told friends or family—or even their other children.”

Miscarriages happen in families and it is important to discuss with other children in the family.  To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Children and Separation

Children suffer from separation.  Whether by death or divorce, the reality of dealing with a separation from normal life is real for children.  Children need to be counseled and guided through this difficult times of separation and adjustment.

Good article on helping children overcome separation and divorce. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

 

 

The article, “Helping children to cope with separation and grief” by Sheila Wayman states,

“It’s important for us to think about separation, not as an event in a child’s life but as a process over years, says Nixon. Often preceding the separation, there is a deterioration or breakdown of the parents’ relationship. Then after the separation there is a period of reorganisation, “maybe chaos”, around living arrangements and access to parents.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Children and Funerals

One of the biggest questions of parents is if they should expose their children to funerals.  Funerals are an important event for younger children to attend.  It allows them to understand death and also say goodbye in their own way.  One should not overload an individual child’s understanding but exposing one to the ritual of death and loss is a healthy experience.

It is healthy for children to attend a funeral. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article,  “Dear David Coleman: Should I bring my son to his grandad’s funeral?” by David Coleman states,

“Even witnessing the burial or cremation of the body can be helpful for children to understand something of the process of death in our culture.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

Child Grief Counseling Program Article on Trauma and School Shootings

The ultimate fear of any parent is to discover a school shooting at one’s child’s school.  This fear does not subside afterwards for many, even the survivors.  Many children need counseling for trauma and parents have to learn how to help their child through that trauma.

School shootings are terrifying and can leave long lasting scars. Please review our Child Grief Counseling Certification

The article, “Dealing With Trauma: How To Best Support Your Child After A School Shooting” by ADHITI BANDLAMUDI discusses this and how to help your child.  The article states,

“In the wake of the shooting at the K-12 STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, parents all over the country are struggling with difficult conversations about safety at school. One student was killed and eight were injured. Hundreds more lived through the terrifying experience of a shooting at their school.”

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Child Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Children and Questions of Death

Children can become fascinated with the concept of death at a young age.  Many children are influenced by magical thinking and cannot conceptualize the permanence of death.   Other children come into contact with death usually with the loss of a small pet such as a fish or hamster.

Children at a young age can become very interested in the topic of death.  Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program
Children at a young age can become very interested in the topic of death. Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

The article, “Why Do 4-Year-Olds Love Talking About Death?” by Jessica Grose looks at this curious interest.  The article states, 

“When our older daughter was 4, it seemed like she was asking us about death constantly. These questions were apropos of nothing; we hadn’t had a death in the family or lost a pet. What was jarring was her matter-of-fact tone.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program