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Grief & Loss: Child Bereavement

Grief and loss are a natural part of the life cycle process, and its experience is unique to the individual. Greensboro Children’s Hospital explains how a child’s brain is malleable and open to learning different ways of processing and coping with loss. It is crucial that practitioners, caregivers and friends, provide a supportive and nurturing environment; as this will aid the child in adapting the healthiest coping practices. Empathy, understanding and patience are essential in amalgam of support; as the bereavement period and severity may cause rippled distress to others affected. It is imperative to honor the unique individual experience for a child as they process the impact of the loss and future implications. Empathy and understanding are truly essential for the caregiver and support system because of the variation in associated bereavement responses, such as: denial, anger or defiance, bargaining, depression or sadness, anxiousness and/ or acceptance. With a goal of easing the child’s experience of loss, practitioners will include all available resources to provide support. Family Therapy is a great resource, with specialists in the pediatric behavioral field that apply a systemic approach to growth and healing. Therapists will engage the bereaved in rituals that honor their loss. Cognitive Behavioral techniques aid the child in identifying faulty thinking that essentially enhances their distress ex. blame or guilt. Art therapy may be utilized for younger or non-verbal children or truly any child that enjoys expressing themselves through artistic creativity. Relaxation techniques are fantastic tools that include guided imagery, visualization, diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Peer groups are a wonderful resource where children have the opportunity to support one another rather than become isolated, and enhance their own capacity for empathy and respect, while empowering themselves to regain a sense of control through their mutual experiences of loss. Children grow and work through their grief by building upon the strengths of one another...

As the ancient proverb says, “It takes a village!"

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