Grief and Bereavement
Losing someone special, whether a family member, friend or pet, is a very traumatic experience for a child/adolescent. Sometimes loss is not about death but rather about someone special going away or leaving the family unit.
Although grief is a normal, healthy process that people go through, children experience grief in very different ways than adolescents do and in very different ways than adults do. What makes it more complicated is that no one person deals with loss in the same way. Having someone that is skilled at working with children and adolescents who have experienced loss can be a very beneficial way to help the child/adolescent integrate the loss/change in a healthy and adaptive way. Some common symptoms of grief that children/adolescents may experience include:
- Feelings of sadness or anxiety
- Feelings of anger and confusion
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Difficulty managing emotion (irritability, acting out, withdrawing, isolating)
- Feelings of guilt
- Extreme fear of the safety and wellbeing of people close to you
- Trouble focusing in school and keeping up with academic demands
- Physical discomfort
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or others
- Thoughts of wanting to join the person or animal who has left or passed away
Treatment focuses on helping children/adolescents navigate through the process of change and loss in a productive and healthy manner by finding meaning within the change/loss process and working through the unique issues that are presented to the individual. It is very important to do this work with appreciation of the child’s developmental level and with appreciation of how the family wants the child to understand loss.
Individual, family and group therapy formats are offered to help children/adolescents coping with the grief/change process. Our child specialists incorporate behavioral management tools, cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy and creative arts activities to empower and teach children how to work through their feelings and learn healthy and adaptive ways of expressing their feelings.