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Grief Matters, Responding to Loss and Bereavement - Mike O'Connor


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Mike O'Connor, The Notre Dame Centre,

Session 2 - Building Better Childhoods, Understanding Contemporary Childhood.

Getting It Right for Every Child: Childhood, Citizenship and Children's Services, Glasgow, 24-26 September 2008.

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
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Grief Matters, Responding to Loss and Bereavement - Mike O'Connor

  1. 1. Building Better Childhoods Grief Matters, Responding to Loss and Bereavement Mike O’Connor mike.o’
  2. 2. Grief Matters <ul><li>Grief has no friends </li></ul><ul><li>Grief is normal </li></ul><ul><li>Grief education is important </li></ul><ul><li>Children’s grief is often misunderstood </li></ul><ul><li>Preparation is key </li></ul><ul><li>There is no “grieve by’” date </li></ul>
  3. 3. Contemporary Childhood <ul><li>1 in 10 children in the UK under age of sixteen has a mental health disorder </li></ul><ul><li>Young people in the UK are involved in more violence, binge drinking and drug taking than European teenagers </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 5 girls (age 15-17) self harm </li></ul><ul><li>A third of all boys and a quarter of all girls bully other children at some stage in their school career </li></ul><ul><li>40,000 children are prescribed anti-depressants in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly 50% of teenagers report that they are unable to talk to their parents about their problems </li></ul><ul><li>Centre for Child mental Health(2007) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Change Cycle
  5. 5. Different Types of Loss <ul><li>Developmental </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipated </li></ul><ul><li>Unexpected </li></ul>
  6. 6. Some Major Life Events for Children <ul><li>Death of a family member </li></ul><ul><li>Parental separation and divorce </li></ul><ul><li>Becoming ‘Looked After’ </li></ul><ul><li>Living with parents with problems of addiction </li></ul>
  7. 7. Definition of Grief <ul><li>‘ The feelings we have when we lose </li></ul><ul><li>someone or something precious’ </li></ul>
  8. 8. Child – Parent Discrepancies in Reporting <ul><li>children often under-report their level of distress to parents </li></ul><ul><li>Key issue for schools </li></ul><ul><li>Children under-report to their teachers </li></ul>
  9. 9. Grief Reactions <ul><li>Physical </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioural </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive </li></ul>
  10. 10. Adults Views on Grief <ul><li>‘ Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break’ ( Shakespeare ) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it’ ( Turkish proverb ) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ one often calms one’s grief by recounting it’ </li></ul><ul><li>( George Eliot ) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Adults Views on Grief <ul><li>‘ least reward for hardest work’ </li></ul><ul><li>Les Murray, Poet </li></ul>
  12. 12. A Child’s view (age 10) <ul><li>‘ I’m angry (at God)... I knew grandad was going to die.... but not as soon as that... it’s like I had no say’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Children, Young People and Bereavement <ul><li>92% of children under 16 report experiencing ‘significant bereavement’ </li></ul><ul><li>70 % of schools will be dealing with a recently bereaved child </li></ul><ul><li>Jane Ribben-McCarthy, NCB, Highlight No.232 (2007) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Bereavement – a mainstream issue? <ul><li>In UK almost 78% of 11-16 year olds have report the death of at least one of first or second degree relatives (includes grandparents or close friends) </li></ul><ul><li>Prevalence range for the death of a parent are around 5-7% </li></ul><ul><li>Slightly lower figures for the death of a sibling </li></ul><ul><li>Jane Ribben-McCarthy, NCB, Highlight No.232 (2007) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Survey in 3 Primary Schools in Clackmannanshire (2003) Did this ever happen to you? School A School B School C Total Sample Family bereavement (%) 48 58 67 59 Separation or divorce ( %) 27 24 38 30
  16. 16. Does experiencing a bereavement constitute a risk factor? <ul><li>Not necessarily but experiencing a parental bereavement increases risk </li></ul><ul><li>May be particularly harmful for children who are already vulnerable or who have experienced multiple problems </li></ul>
  17. 17. Children and Young People What do they think? <ul><li>Difficulty coping with and understanding overwhelming feelings </li></ul><ul><li>Long time periods over which they are affected </li></ul><ul><li>Adverse impact on social relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of opportunities to talk </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of power and sense of exclusion from decision-making </li></ul>
  18. 18. Key Messages <ul><li>Preparation is essential - and possible </li></ul><ul><li>Timely intervention and support should be offered when children need it </li></ul><ul><li>All those working with and for children should be aware of the impact of loss and bereavement on children </li></ul><ul><li>Children and young people should be able to access support in their own communities </li></ul><ul><li>There can be positive and negative outcomes for bereaved children </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural differences should be respected </li></ul>
  19. 19. Seasons for Growth - a loss and grief education program <ul><li>is based on peer support </li></ul><ul><li>uses quality educational methods to process loss and grief </li></ul><ul><li>is a withdrawal program from normal classes </li></ul><ul><li>has five levels – three in Primary and two in Secondary </li></ul><ul><li>has an Adult Program available in 3 Components </li></ul><ul><li>promotes connectedness </li></ul>
  20. 20. WHO Framework for Comprehensive Mental Health promotion in Schools
  21. 21. Contact details <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>