About the Session: According to the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model, 1 in 14 children in the United States will experience the death of parent or a sibling by age 18. This number more than double when considering youth up to 25 making childhood bereavement a critical public and behavioral health issue. Grief and trauma following a death is destabilizing for children and, when left unaddressed, can result in problems including increased anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress reactions, aggression, academic struggles, and relationship issues. Recent research connects experiencing such a death with significant negative health outcomes including early mortality. Many systems of care provide limited or no access to comprehensive, trauma-informed bereavement services designed to respond to the complex needs of diverse youth. Schools provide a natural environment for ensuring equitable access to effective resources that mitigate risks and keep bereaved youth on healthy developmental trajectories, yet many education professionals report receiving training in identifying, assessing, and supporting students in managing related symptoms and concerns. This workshop is designed to provide grief and trauma education and awareness to increase school professionals’ bereavement related confidence and competence by discussing misconceptions and myths that can lead to misunderstandings with bereaved families. Participants will review the developmental understandings of death and common grief reactions. Suggestions will assist school professionals in supporting students while fostering growth and resilience. By exploring disruptive grief reactions and restorative grief experiences, the presenter will demonstrate the importance of responding in a manner that launches a whole-family, whole-community, preventative, strengths-based approach.
As a result of participating in this educational activity, learners will be able to:
- Delineate myths and misperceptions about death and grief that commonly lead to misunderstandings.
- Identify developmental understandings of death and common grief reactions from infancy to adulthood.
- Understand how to support grieving individuals by providing basic responses that promote a griefsensitive environment.
- Provide referrals to local resources that can support bereaved children and families.