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  • 1. Sibling Grief Recognizing and Serving Children at Risk Cathy R. Blanford, I{Ed Statistics Regatding Sibling Death . Just under 2 millioo children age 18 and under living in the United States have experienced the dea& of a sibling. . 26, 000 srillbirths in U.S. in a year ' 19,000 Newbom deaths . Miscarriages as high as 25oh of pregnancies . Cose to half of these families have other children.
  • 2. Impact of Sibling Death . Sibliag death has a different impact on a child than the death of a prent or other significant adult. . The child's reaction will depend on many factors: - The age ofthe child - The age ofthe sibling - The relationship between the child & sibling * Whether it was a long illness or a sudden death - Whether or not the child was included in the prccs - 1he parents reaction, availability . Child's age and sibling's age - Whethet they were the younger or the oldrx sibling and the years separating theit ages will have an impact ofl the grieving process. - The relationship betwem the two was partially due to the age of each. . Longillness or quick, unexpected death - A long ilLress may me,ur the child is more prepared for the death, but also means that attention has been devoted to sick sibling for a puiod of time - An uflexpected death can be cspecially frightening, leaves child feeling rulnetable, family h deep state of shock, disbelicf 2
  • 3. . Degree to which chjld was involved 6r excluded. - A child who has bem involved ir the process of the sibling s illness and/or dyng wiil have a better opportunity to grier.e, elpress feelhgs, gain information - A child who is excluded from the process feels left out, does not mderstand what is happening may feel less importart in family Special Issues for Subsequents . Born into a family where there is a "ghosC' Horv rvill the subsequcnt come ro leam of rhc sibling? Wlren wrll hc bc told? Who rvrJl tell him? . How'?resend'is the absent child? Are there mv pictures? Are there stones told? Are there regular memorials? What happms on holidays? . Rqrlacemmt child: Would I have beer bom if s/he had not died? . Attachment issues . Overprotectiveness of Parents ffi-11 ffiffin 3
  • 4. Disenfranchised Grief ' Child's own grief may be discounted due to the parents' ovetwhelming grief . Child may not be included in the family's grieving ptocess, Helping These Children in Grief GrouPs . Preferable for children with sibling loss to be with othet children who have also experienced the death of a sibiing. ' Mixed groups work but it is better if there is at least one other child whose sibling died' Value of the Story . The child will be able to obtain infoffnation they rnay not have had before. . This will help to clear up misconceptions. . The child's story will give the Paretrts zri opportunity to see how their child is thinking about what happened. 4
  • 5. Josh andJessica: Twins and a Dtesset . Twins were two years old whenJustin died in their bedroom during naptime. . Jessica came to us at age 4 without a story. . We helped her obtain information about what happened. . She left the goup with her own story in which she was the heroine. 5
  • 6. Opportunities to Deal with Anger . Legrtimize anger-it's okay to be mad! - Don't hut yourself. * Don't hurt anyone else. - Don't break anlthing important. . Give them tools for getting the anger out. Guilt: That "rgly emotion" . I7e know that recognizing and dealing wid. g"ilt is always a part of the healthy grieving process. . lvluch more complicated when it is a sibling, due to the natural process of sibling rivalry. Stories of Siblings Expedencing Feelings of Guilt . Sarah: Had always been iealous of attention her sick little sister received . Jerry: Felt since he was the big brother he should have been able to prevent the accident . Meghan: Couldn't remember that she had been in the toom . Joe: Was always afiaid of huting his litde sister.
  • 7. . Jpsh gol hit by :r dresser" It was in lhair roon- Fear as a Reaction to Sibling's Death . He died and he was iust a kid---<ould I die too? . Not just old people die. . Sometimes I didn't want him around and he died--did I make that happen? 7
  • 8. Stodes of Children Expetiencing Fear after Sibling's Death . Jack: Watching his baby brother's heart beating . Janet: "Then I died" Sense of an Ongoing Relationship with Sibling . Ben: Wanted to die, savr his brother's spirit . Jack Singing to his baby brother 8
  • 9. Remembering While Going On . It's okay to temember the whole person. Yorx sibling was not a saint . You are special too! (Closing circle, say each child's name three timesl) . Ok to go on living, be happy! Helping Parents Help Their Kids . Deal with their own grief: If they're okay, their kids will be okay. ' Keep pictures, stories, memorializingto a healthy minirnum. . Understand their children's reactions (books are helptul here) . Tendency to be overprotective can be harmfirl . Not the child'iob to care for the parent Children and their Patents' Reactions , Bill's mom wories about him getting hurt. ' Sherry was iealous of attention mom gave her litde sister. . Ray worried about making mom feel better. . Sarah didn't get enough of mom's time. I
  • 10. Helping Patents Help their Chil&en . Separate group for parents to help them deal vrith their own feelings. ' Tell parents what children are doing, how they can connect with their feelings. . Closing Ceremony: Teli your children something really special about themselves You can make a difference in the lives of these children, ahfe long difference! 10