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.
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
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.