Grief, Loss & Separation for Child Welfare WorkersFacilitator Pamela J. Randolph MS
Grief, Loss & Separation for Child Welfare Workers Grief is the pain of loss, all-encompassing, overwhelming, all-consuming. It is without boundaries. It can not be constrained. It is about feeling abandoned and about fears of severed connectedness, even when in the work place. Suicide of a client and/or their family member is as traumatic. We hang onto our grief's, regrets, what-if’s, and “why didn’t I’s”.
Grief, Loss & Separation for Child Welfare Workers Death is as much a part of life as birth. At birth we are brought into the world of the living. In death, we are brought into eternity. Loss is a natural part of life. The loss is not necessarily the loss of in death but also in separation of by divorce, distance/relocation, a child leaving home, robbery, retirement/lay-off or termination, illness, aging, rebellious children. In grief, a person’s stability is shaken after being in a life altering situation for a matter of time.
Grief, Loss & Separation Grieving is that period in which a person experiences a wide range of emotions for an indefinite period. While in foster care, children who have been closely related to the case worker by workload and supervision have formed an attachment regardless of the time. For most people the grief is defined by the loss of the relationship.
Grief, Loss & Separation Observations Admissions
Grief, Loss & Separation Observations Death may end life, but it need not severe the bond. Suffering is not measurable. Each loss is terrible and each loss is the worst. Loss is to have no longer time than needed. We search for it, we long for it, we ache for what could have been. Loss through death seems so/is permanent. Admissions The end of mourning makes itself known. Loss sets the stage for further creation. We feel we are being punished for a crime we did not commit. Mourning is a process which can not be rushed. Losses cannot be prepared for.
Grief, Loss & SeparationPhases of Grief: Grieving is a process of overlapping phases₁, which may be experienced and re-experienced, but are eventually resolved. People can move back and forth through the various phases of grief. Dr. Erich Linderman, a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University wrote a paper entitled “Symptomology and Management of Acute Grief” and he noted the importance of assisting grieving individuals to work through the grief process. He further noted people have five very distinctive reactions to grief which are: 1. Somatic distress, 2. Preoccupation with the image of the deceased person, 3. Guilt, 4. Anger reaction, and 5. Loss of pattern of conduct.
Grief, Loss & Separation Westberg’s Ten Stages of Grief: Shock phase Emotional Release Depression, Loneliness/Isolation Somatic Symptoms of Distress May become panicky. Sense of personal guilt about the loss. Anger and resentment. Resists returning to normalcy. Hope gradually emerges. Struggle to reaffirm reality.
Grief, Loss & Separation In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying (MacMillian, 1991), Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler ~Ross sets five stages of grief: 1. denial and isolation, 2. anger towards God 3. bargaining, 4. depression as an emotional response, and 5. acceptance.
The Mayo Clinic maintains that adult grief predominantly involves four reactions: 1. Shock, numbness, and disbelief. 2. Pining, yearning and sadness, 3. Acceptance of loss, and 4. Resolution. Minirth et al. (pp. 315-322) identifies six phases involved in the grief process which has been adapted from the work of Kubler~Ross which are 1. Shock/denial 2. Anger turned outward 3. Depression, i.e, 4. Bargaining 5. Sadness, and 6. Forgiveness, resolution and acceptance.
Grief, Loss & Separation Although no two people grieve alike, most people experience emotional mood swings that include several emotions, often mixed, but especially feelings of despair. Sometimes emotions rise higher than other times when effected by triggers. Regardless of being age or an adult or child, it happens.
Child Welfare Workers When a child in foster care dies it can reek havoc on the community, the agency, the administration, the case worker, and the caregiver, as well as the family whom the child was removed from custody. Many times the feeling of blame is shed on each entity regarding the death of the child.
Recommendations for the bereaved Randolph offers five recommendations for the grieving individual who can follow to resolve their grief: 1. Acknowledge the grieving process, the hurt felt and recognize the life of those still left to serve, love and protect. 2. Seek to be free from the pain by relinquishing denial. 3. Surrender memories and painful emotions by securing good memories and tangible memories. 4. Take Action by saying goodbye to the lost. 5. Pray daily “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Minirth et al., (p. 231) set out several recommendations for those progressing through grief. 1. Express your emotions. 2. Verbalize your goodbyes. 3. Keep and live the spiritual code of life. 4. Do not make any major decisions during the first your of personal life however move forward with loss of a child in foster care to make the best sound decisions for the family. 5. Maintain physical health with adequate nutrition, rest, and sleep. 6. Keep relationships with friends and family alive. 7. Cry when needed, yes even over a family member involved in your case. It is healthy to release so you can move forward with your work. If needed ask for a brief allotment of time to process the death.
Tips to Follow…. Grief of loss and separation is normal and natural. Grief involves physical and emotional responses. Grief is hard work and takes a lot of energy to process. Don’t stop the process before it is finished. Share your feelings with someone you trust. Have realistic emotions for yourself. Deal with loss one day at a time. Time does help however does not heal all wounds of grief and loss. Seek professional help with a licensed/certified counselor if needed. Seek appropriate resources such as meetings and reading materials if needed.
Grief, Loss & Separation Determine how to make you smile again by: Taking time away if needed. 2. Talk to people you trust. 3. Seek emotional counseling, visit with an Employee Assistance Program. Talk to your Supervisor for support. Exercise and rest. Write in your journal. Seek spiritual counseling. Celebrate the life of the person who you lost or separated from. Find your passion and dedicate time to it. Have clarity in your decision making and make conscious, sound and reasonable efforts in the workplace, with people as well as with your family. Do not ignore the signs of depression. Listen to comforting music. Take a drive with the windows down.
The End Please complete your evaluation forms and leave the on the table. Your certificate will be delivered to your office. Thank you for attending this session of Grief, Loss & Separation.
Pamela J. Randolph Pamela received professional degrees from the following schools including a Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College (Home Economics/Sociology/Business Administration), Master of Science (Addiction Studies and Counseling) degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and is currently pursuing a PhD degree from Texas Woman's University (Family Studies with an emphasis in Adolescent Counseling Programs) in Denton, Texas. She also completed several programs, trainings in numerous areas including "Train the Trainer" Facilitation, Professional Speaking Guild, and Global Career Development Facilitation in which is an Honorary Doctorate degree. Pamela has a number of published and unpublished manuscripts to her credit. She is currently a Professor and Field Trainer at Philander Smith College in the Social Work department.
Bibliography: Dr. Erich Linderman,“ Symptomology and Management of Acute Grief, Harvard University. On Death and Dying…. Elisabeth Kubler~Ross, M.D. 1991 MacMillian & Scribner Publishing On Life After Death …. Elisabeth Kubler~Ross, M.D. 1993 MacMillian & Scribner Publishing Introduction To Chaplaincy Guide 2006, pages 134-145. Minirth et al. ppgs. 321-323 Introduction to Chaplaincy Guide Westberg , ppgs. 315-322. Introduction to Chaplaincy Guide