What is Childhood Traumatic Grief

Submitted by admin on Sun, 04/20/2014 - 09:40


 Childhood traumatic grief may occur following a death of someone important to the child when the child perceives the experience as traumatic. The death may have been sudden and unexpected (e.g., through violence or an accident), or anticipated (e.g., resulting from illness or other natural causes).

The distinguishing feature of childhood traumatic grief is that the trauma symptoms interfere with the child's ability to go through the typical process of bereavement. The child experiences a combination of trauma and grief symptoms so severe that any thoughts or reminders—even happy ones—about the person who died can lead to frightening thoughts, images, and/or memories of how the person died.

NCTSN Resources  

Recognizing and Responding to Childhood Traumatic Grief

Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers describes how teens struggling with the death of someone close may feel and what you can do to help.

Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers outlines how children struggling with the death of someone close may feel and what you can do to help.

Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers gives ideas on what school-age children with traumatic grief may think and ways you can help.

Helping Youth After a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators offers what teens might be feeling after a tragic community event and how educators can help them with those feelings. 

Rosie Remembers Mommy: Forever in Her Heart  is the story of a young girl who is struggling with childhood traumatic grief after the death of her mother. We follow Rosie as she expresses wishes to see her mom, feels reluctant about school, finds no pleasure in activities she formerly found enjoyable, wonders whether she could somehow have caused her mother’s death, and even refuses her favorite meal that Daddy has made. Rosie and Daddy go to meet Anna, who works with children after someone dies. Through play, song, and art, Anna helps Rosie eventually cope with the loss of her mother.

Ready to Remember: Jeremy's Journey of Hope and Healing (PDF)
Ready to Remember tells the story of a 10-year-old boy's experience following the tragic death of his father.  Jeremy is having a traumatic reaction and struggling at school and at home.  Developed for the school age reader, with an additional caregiver guide, the illustrated book describes Jeremy's journey as he and his family get help and are able to enjoy happy memories together.

It's Okay to Remember (Video)
A moving first-person narrative illustrating how a family can move through the pain of loss and go on to heal. The family shares their personal experiences of the traumatic grief experienced by one daughter after her sister's sudden death. Helps parents, educators, pediatricians, and others who care for children to understand childhood traumatic grief.

Training video for mental health professionals that presents critical core components for providing trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to children who suffer from childhood traumatic grief. Includes helpful demonstrations of each treatment component through role-plays conducted by children. The material represents the results of significant advances in the field of childhood traumatic grief and the unique collaboration of researchers and clinicians in academic and community settings throughout the country. To order a free CD of the video from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's store, click here.
The Courage to Remember Curriculum Guide (PDF)
     >Japanese: 思い出す勇気 (2015) (PDF)
Developed as a companion to the training video The Courage to Remember, the guide presents a more in-depth description of the treatment components (both individual and group interventions) for children and caregivers who have been impacted by traumatic grief. Clearly organized and labeled for ease of use, it includes main therapeutic concepts, therapeutic activities, case examples, handouts, and resources. The material represents the results of significant advances in the field of childhood traumatic grief and the unique collaboration of researchers and clinicians in academic and community settings throughout the country.
Childhood Traumatic Grief Educational Materials
The following materials on childhood traumatic grief present general information and provide targeted guidance for the audience addressed. 



Additional Resources

Below are some of the many resources on childhood traumatic grief available to parents and caregivers, children, and mental health professionals. Links to Web-accessible resources are also provided.

Note: All product descriptions are based on information provided by the publisher or manufacturer, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the NCTSN. Inclusion on this site is not an endorsement of any product by the NCTSN.

NCTSN Resources

Childhood Traumatic Grief Additional Resources - For Caregivers (2010) (PDF)
Childhood Traumatic Grief Additional Resources - For Children and Teens (2010) (PDF)
Childhood Traumatic Grief Additional Resources - For Professionals (2010) (PDF)

            A comprehensive video program to help adults understand how children perceive death, respond to loss, and
            grieve. Includes an overview of death from a child's point of view, information on the developmental stages of
            grieving behaviors, and advice on how to create support systems for bereaved children. Also available as
            part of correspondence course.
The Stamp Game: A Game of Feelings (ages 6 & up)
An innovative tool for helping people identify, clarify, and express feelings. “Players will be able to relate more honestly to others as they learn to express feelings. As a result, players become more effective problem-solvers, and the identification and expression of feelings brings clarity to players' needs, which in turn leads to enhanced self-esteem. The game is a wonderful tool to equalize those who use words as a defense but have difficulty being emotionally honest, and for those who have great difficulty being articulate on any level.” Available from: AuthorsDen.com, ClaudiaBlack.com, Mentor Books, and SelfHelpWarehouse.com.
Emotional Bingo for Children (ages 6–12) & Emotional Bingo for Teens (ages 12–18)
"Everybody knows how to play Bingo, but this version requires players to identify feelings rather than numbers on their Bingo cards. Ideal for counseling groups or classrooms . . . not only helps children learn to recognize various feelings, it also teaches empathy—a trait associated with lower incidence of violent behavior. Game rules provide opportunities for children to discuss their own feelings and to respond empathetically to the feelings of others. The teen version features feelings that are common in adolescence." Available from: Creative Therapy Store and Western Psychological Services.