Credit hours:

Course Summary

Placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt for children and youth. In order to effectively serve and provide for their needs, we need to help children and youth recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Through this module, you will gain knowledge and tools to help children and youth cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Information about ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges children and youth in care may face through the grieving process
  • The ways grief and trauma can manifest in a child or youth's behaviors
  • Strategies children and youth can use to cope with ambiguous loss and/or grief

Step 1

Watch the following video "Best Practices for Grief: Foster Care Placement." This video is a part of a series examining grief and loss experiences of children and teens, and was selected because of its valuable introduction to the grief children and youth may experience due to being part of the foster care system. 

Step 2

The effects of grief that children and youth in foster care experience vary based on their developmental age. Review the following article published by Fostering Perspectives, "The Effects of Grief and Loss on Children in Foster Care" to learn what grief signs to be aware of for all children and youth.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children" to learn about the inevitable loss a child or youth experiences during their foster care (sometimes repeatedly) and how incredibly difficult this type of grief is to process.

Step 4

Gregory Manning discusses the difference between a traditional and non-traditional loss and how the profound loss and trauma a child or young person in foster care may experience manifests and impacts their behaviors in the following video "Grief and Loss for Youth in Foster Care & Adoption."

Step 5

Watch Matthew's video which reflects the trauma, grief, and loss he dealt with throughout his foster care experience. 

Step 6

Review "What Young People Can Do: Healing From Loss," a simple form to help guide and validate a young person healing from loss.

Step 7

Share the "Bill of Rights for Grieving Youth in Foster Care" tool with your child. These rights reflect the values, dreams, and aspirations of current and former foster youth suffering from tremendous loss and can be helpful to a grieving young person and/or a young person who has not yet begun the grieving process.

Step 8

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How can you help young people in your care suffering from grief and loss?

Step 9

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate! 

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Course Discussion

SerenaSalmans's picture

SerenaSalmans said:

I really liked how Mr. Manning stated it. We don't expect adults to have to do every day activities like going to the super market, etc. right after they lose a loved one. If they react in anger or outburst, we let them express their emotions. But when we get a foster child who is also having to grieve and doesn't always have the coping mechanisms we have to allow them to feel those feelings and grieve in their own way. We have to remember their entire lives have been flipped upside down and it's our job to facilitate a healthy environment for them to grieve and cope.
rubenia's picture

rubenia said:

Listen to child have compassion, help by finding things to do that occupy the mind one thing i did with a child was gardening we grow vegetables and flowers i planted a flowering in honor of my mother that pass and named it after her it come up every year a child was visiting my home with my daughter and heard me say go afternoon "Mama Mae you're beautiful" she ask me why i call my flower Mama Mae i explain to her my mom pass away and i love flowers as well as my mom did and the best part was watching it come back every year she ask me if i could help her plant one for her grandmother for her and her mother her mother said it's the first time in a while she seen a smile on her daughter 's face she really enjoys taking care of grandma Rose.Which explain why she wanted a rose bush i had no idea her grandmother name was Rose!'s picture

[email protected] said:

Grief and loss are hard - and everyone reacts differently - in his / her own unique way. As foster parents, we need to understand this, be compassionate and willing to just listen, not reactive to their outbursts or behaviors, not try to control or subdue them (unless someone is in danger of course). We need to learn about the possible resources at our disposal to help the children placed with us learn to manage their grief and loss a little more effectively.'s picture

sarahhmiller197... said:

I think we need to be open and compassionate and understanding that removal from a birth home (even one that is abusive or neglectful) is a massive trauma inflicted upon these children - and can also lead to increased depression, anxiety, and feelings of loss and grief and helplessness.
djhoffman3005's picture

djhoffman3005 said:

stay calm and understanding when they are acting out grief them find constructive ways to express that grief
BEnove's picture

BEnove said:

Help them to process the emotions that they are feeling and be there to listen and support them over time.
MsPorter's picture

MsPorter said:

Always be there when they need you to be without judgment and sometimes you don't need to say anything at all.
Amber's picture

Amber said:

Be understanding and allow children to grieve in their own way.
cory.vinson1's picture

cory.vinson1 said:

Helping the recognize the emotions they are feeling and help model healthy ways to cope with grief and loss. Understanding that their grief may always be there but being support when they need it.
vernazurc22's picture

vernazurc22 said:

Understanding their losses and anticipating every different way of grieving or mourning will help support a child.