Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Jack Presbury

Anne Stewart

Lennis Echterling

Abstract

Ninety percent of children in the United States will have experienced the loss of a significant loved one by the time they are 18 years old (McClure, 2007). Parents and other family members can provide a significant amount of support, provided that they are equipped with the necessary resources. The purpose of this project was to identify and develop tools that provide parents and other family members with the opportunity to learn ways to incorporate themselves as a support system for a grieving child in their family. Children express their feelings by showing rather than telling. Creativity allows bereaved children to express their grief in their own way, as well as recognize new strengths and abilities in themselves. Using creative methods provides children with developmentally appropriate activities in order to help them cope. Through the use of paper, paint, poetry, writing, books, clay, music, dance, pictures, theater, crafts, rituals, and other creative methods, children are allowed a safe space to express an unfamiliar and painful experience (Doka, 2000). The journal I created includes an overview of understandings regarding death for children, offers common signs and symptoms of bereavement, and describes important factors surrounding grief and death within a family. Each section includes a list of activities related to a different theme, and briefly describes its purpose or usefulness. This 365-day interactive journal includes enough activities to allow the family to participate in one activity a day for a year following the death of a loved one. Future recommendations include conducting a study to determine the impact of using this material with professionals, parents, and children. It would be helpful to explore anniversary reactions further, along with the long term negative effects of unresolved grief from childhood.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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