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The many ways children grieve, often in secret
Changes in family dynamics after death--and straightforward, effective ways to ease the transition
Ways to communicate with children about death and grief
How to cope with the intense sorrow triggered by holidays
The signs grief has turned to depression--and where to find help
And more insights, information, and advice that can help a child heal
From the Trade Paperback edition.
As Jim walked down the hospital corridor after Mary died, the first thought that entered his mind was: "Will my kids be okay?" The looks on his three children's faces as they learned about their mother's death were nothing short of traumatic. Would this experience--so sudden and so unnatural--ruin their lives forever?
For both of us, the question of how to help children through grief became a driving passion. Soon after we married, we both left our jobs in the corporate world to found the New England Center for Loss and Transition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who grieve the loss of a loved one, particularly children.
After Mary died, Jim had discovered that many mental health professionals knew little about issues of grief and loss. When he talked to one therapist about his feelings, she said, "I'd like to help you more, but I really don't know very much about grief and loss." Another family counselor, who did stimulate some useful communication among family members, told Jim the same thing.
When we opened the center, most of our direct service work focused on bereavement counseling and support groups for adults. Jim's personal tragedy and our own experience of raising three grieving children quickly attracted a number of young widows and widowers, in their thirties and forties, seeking counsel. We listened to these parents and shared stories with them. Grateful for the help and support they received, nearly every parent raised the same concern: "This is really helpful for me as I work on my grief, but what about my kids? Do you have anything that will help them?"
In the summer of 1994, we asked two other therapists to join us in creating a children's grief support program. Similar groups that already existed at that time were the excellent program at the Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon; the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Maine; and Fernside in Cincinnati. In the spring of 1995, modeling our program on what we saw as the best aspects of each, we opened The Cove, a program for grieving children and their families in Guilford, Connecticut. Six families initially signed up, and by the end of the year, the original group had grown to more than seventy-five. As the program expanded, other mental health professionals used our model to start Coves in other parts of the state. Within four years, that little program with six families in Guilford had grown to six sites serving hundreds of grieving children and their parents.
The need for such programs is great. Approximately 38,000 children under the age of eighteen have experienced the death of a parent in the state of Connecticut alone. Nationwide, an estimated 3.5 million grieving children are struggling to make sense of the frightening new world created by the loss of a parent.
In the past seven years at the center, we have worked with countless grieving parents and children, and the lessons we have learned from them as well as from our own personal experience constitute the heart of this book. These chapters are the result of years of the pain and promise, trial and error, failure and success in raising grieving children.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted April 10, 2010