Friday, November 9, 2012

Supporting Teens In Grief


A few weeks back I posted about a case I was working on regarding a student whose parent was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, her health took a turn for the worse and this case has now become one dealing with grief.

I have not had any experience working with students in a time of grief and found myself getting pretty anxious about the prospects. So, in order to prepare myself for the worst I purchased a few books off of Amazon to have if the time came to work through grief, whether this year or beyond. (The books I purchased will be listed below in a separate Resource section.)

When I received word about the parent’s passing, my anxiety increased tremendously. How can I possibly help or make a difference? What if I say or do the wrong thing? What if not saying/doing anything is the wrong thing? The negative self-talk continued on and on and on….

Instead of sitting in that negativity I decided to finally look through the books I had purchased. After flipping through them and heeding some of the advice I felt a bit better. The books are meant to be read from the point of view of the griever. So information about the poor responses people might have, I tried to combat. I also posted a message on a school psychology listserv I belong to looking for any last second guidance (Thanks for your helpful words, Jason!).

I finally got a chance to meet with the student on Wednesday. I was nervous but mentally pep-talked myself. Overall, the initial session went well. We reminisced and talked about how she was working to combat the denial (e.g., involvement in funeral planning). We checked-in about her self-care plan and how her other family members were coping. All I could think about was how strong this young girl was sitting in front of me. As I was about to give her some kudos, she vocalized that all of her teachers were shocked at her attendance in school and told her how “strong” she was. I immediately shut my mouth and nodded along.

At the end of the session I reminded her that during our time together we will be going at a pace that is comfortable for her. I also informed her that we can go over stages of grief and develop some coping skills and self-care routines. As she was leaving I presented her with a “Hot Pass” allowing her to leave her class to see me whenever she needed during the day.

In my preparation for these sessions I have found a few resources/books I want to share!

·        Dower & Lister (2001). I Will Remember You: What to Do When Someone You Love Dies - A Guidebook Through Grief for Teens. New York: Bantam Books .(Amazon)

 

·        Emswiler & Emswiler (2000). Guiding Your Child Through Grief. New York: Scholastic Inc. (Amazon)

 

·        Wolfelt (2001). Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical Ideas. Fort Collins, CO: Companion Press. (Amazon)

 

·        Grollman (1999). Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love. Boston: Beacon Press. (Amazon)

 

·        Krementz (1988). How It Feels When a Parent Dies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (Amazon)

 

·        NASP (2010). Death and Grief: Supporting Youth and Children. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/deathgrief.pdf

·        Comerchero & Brown (May 2012). Grief and Bereavement Research and Interventions Interest Group Proposed. Communiqué 40(7). Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/cq/40/7/viewpoints-grief.aspx


Are there any books you have that you use when working through grief? Any unique activities that you would recommend?

Until next thyme,
Erika

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