Separation, Grief and Loss
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Separation, Grief & Loss
Separation, Grief & Loss
negative impact of multiple placements, importance of effective transitions, benefits of including the clients’ family in therapy
Youth experience grief & loss during:
…anniversaries of death or significant event
…loss of safety after a traumatic event
…transitions from placements
Youth remember being with their family or friends during these events. It may be the first time away from home during a significant event
What is Grief?
• A natural response to loss
• The response to the loss results in how severe the grief
• Small losses may result in grief if the child had a poor response
• Grieving is personal and highly individual experience
How a person Grieves
• Depends on – Their personality– Coping skills– Life experience– Their faith– Nature of the Loss
Grieving takes time – Healing cannot be rushed
No “normal” timeline for grieving
• Grieving can take…
Myths or Facts about Grief?
• The pain will go away faster if the youth ignores it.
• It’s important for the youth to “be strong” in the face of loss.
• If they don’t cry, it means they aren’t sorry about the loss.
• Grief should last about a year.
5 Stages of Grief – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
• Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
• Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?” (My case worker? Foster family?)
• Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
• Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
• Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
Grief can be a roller coaster
• Full of ups and downs
• Highs and lows
• Rougher in the beginning
• Lows may be deeper and longer
• As time goes on, the lows are less intense and shorter
• It takes time to work through a los• Source: Hospice Foundation of America
Common Symptoms of Grief
• Shock or disbelief
• Physical Symptoms– Fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or
weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia
What we can do to helpIdentify that they are feeling griefListen to youthExpress empathy for their lossCommunicate with your Supervisor and the youth’s therapistConnect youth to other family or friends through phone calls or visitsProvide Structure and a set ScheduleUse Positive Reinforcement when they take care of themselvesDon’t tell a youth how they should feelPlan ahead for grief “triggers” – Anniversaries, holidays, etc
• It is typical for youth with behavioral problems in foster care to experience multiple family placements.
• Multiple placements leave children confused, scared, and grieving for previous families.
• Multiple placements are to be avoided as much as possible
Transitioning• If you do decide to move the youth, you are required to give a
10 days notice
• We like to have a gradual transition if possible, the youth spends visits with the new family, gradually increasing in length as the child adjusts to the new family.
• If the youth is going to go home, it’s important that the natural family be involved in family therapy and visits. The foster parent needs to be extremely pleasant to the relationship between the child and their parents.
Working with Natural Parents
• Look for the positives. Point out the positives.
• Compliment the parents
• Be supportive of visits, never threaten to take visits away.
• Refer to your consultant for any criticism or frustration re: parents. Do not talk negatively of parents in front of the child.
• Youth will be moved from placements if the foster family is not supportive of the reunification plan.
Family Therapy• Many of our youth will have weekly or bi-monthly family therapy
• Be supportive of the youth and family and the important work they are doing.
• Be on-time to appointments, be pleasant to natural parents, ask natural parents for feedback or suggestions.
• Family therapy is a great way for youth to work through their grief and loss and the feelings they have for being brought into foster care.
• Allow the youth to be quiet or need space after family therapy. Typically youth will struggle with the time immediately after and will need your support and empathy.
• Express to the youth that you’re available if they need to talk.