Child and Adolescent Grief
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Grief and Traumatic Bereavement Counseling
Dr. Weide’s Experience Working with Bereaved Families
Children and adolescents
experience grief exactly the same way adults do – all underlying reactions and feelings are identical. But because of their different developmental stages – a two-year old brain is different from a four-six-eight-ten-twelve-fourteen-sixteen year old brain – the loss of a close, significant individual is processed and expressed differently.
This can be confusing to adults who may be the primary caretakers or educators. You may safely assume that all children and most adolescents are traumatized by the death of a primary caretaker or a sibling even though you may not be able to perceive this. Children may "cycle rapidly" between despair and playfulness while adolescents may put up a façade because they do not want “to be different” from their peers. Often children and adolescents – just as adults! - feel that they should be protective of siblings, parents, or other significant individuals and therefore must pretend that they are "OK".
This may lead to the conclusion that they are less or not at all affected by the death of, for example, a parent or sibling. And that no particular care is required. But children and adolescents are affected even more deeply because they have not yet developed the defense mechanisms and coping skills adults have - such as verbalizing needs and feelings.
Children and adolescents also do not have the social support in the community adults can avail themselves of. It is therefore essential to understand their age-dependent expressions of grief which may include physical symptoms or assuming the symptoms of the dying or deceased significant other. Just as surviving adults often do!
School performance may suffer and there may be periods of anger and acting out. Do not assume when this does not occur that the child or adolescent is not traumatized or deeply affected. Often, it is an enlightened parent – possibly a grieving and traumatized survivor as well – who already provides the accepting environment and openness to expressions of grief and loss which are essential for developing brains. I have worked with numerous adults whose childhood grief and trauma were not addressed appropriately and thus had had a major influence on their entire lives.
Schools play an important role with supporting grieving children, adolescents and their families during what most likely is the worst time of their lives. Relevant literature has been available for at least twenty years now. There are also accommodations for grieving children and adolescents in accordance with state and federal law.
Dr. Weide offers both individual and group counseling for adolescents and children, using play and art therapy whenever appropriate. The non-verbal expression of thoughts and feelings can often be helpful.
She also sees families facing loss and grief in order to assist with the development of coping skills in the face of death or serious illness. Optimal results are achieved when the young person's immediate significant others actively participate in the process.
In addition, Dr. Weide's approach includes guiding parents through separation and divorce to help them minimize the impact on their children.Click to contact Dr. Weide! or call (703) 548-3866 in Virginia and
(240) 229-1893 in Maryland
for more information.
Offices in Alexandria, VA 22314, 1600 Prince Street, Suite 102
(Two blocks from King St. Metro)
Bethesda, MD 20814, 4405 East-West Hwy., Suite 311A
(Two blocks from Bethesda Metro)
Dr. Weide provides services for the following
communities and zip code areas:
Rockville, Bethesda, Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Colesville, Fort Washington, Gaithersburg, Garret Park, Germantown, Glen Echo, Kensington, North Potomac, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Alexandria, Arlington, Annandale, Belle Haven, Fort Hunt, Chantilly, Frankonia, Great Falls, McLean, Mount Vernon, Reston, Merrifield, Seven Corners, Woodbridge, Falls Church, Fairfax, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Prince William County, Washington D.C., 22301, 22302, 22303, 22304, 22305, 22306, 22307, 22308, 22309, 22310, 22311, 22312, 22313, 22314, 22315, 22320, 22321, 22331, 22332, 22333, 22334, 22336, 20814, 20815, 20818