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

rBolick's picture

rBolick said:

I can help a child suffering from grief and loss, by letting the child express their feelings of loss. Also, you can make a "loss box," they put what they have lost in their life in the box. This helps you acknowledge their loss and helps showing support to that child.
raemaher's picture

raemaher said:

Give foster kids time to process their loss, knowing it might be hard for them to verbalize how they are feeling. They might not even know if they are sad, angry, or other feelings initially.
MaherBritt's picture

MaherBritt said:

this course provided some great understanding, which is what is needed - as is said several times, this takes a lot of time. time to process, time to work through, time to... etc. and we need to UNDERSTAND this as adults more than anything. its easy to read or hear, but we need to pause and think about it and really listen - and incorporate it.
H.Collins's picture

H.Collins said:

Give them space to feel their feelings instead of dismissing them
Beto14's picture

Beto14 said:

Have Patience and show them support.
Erniee23's picture

Erniee23 said:

Everyone deals with grief differently. Be Patience and show them support. Allow them to feel the emotions that they are experiencing and validate that their feelings aren't wrong. Stop what you are doing and show them you really care about them.
gdmj0311's picture

gdmj0311 said:

Time, patience, understanding and being there for them and supporting them in any way that is in your means to support them
Jerrglov1's picture

Jerrglov1 said:

Time, patience, understanding, loss and grief, trust they will share some of there history . Acknowledge I believe as an older person and todays youth are totally different worlds, but success and failure goes across age lines, just in a different manner
SMahalchick's picture

SMahalchick said:

Allow them to feel the emotions that they are experiencing and validate that their feelings aren't wrong. Acknowledge their struggle, help them cope appropriately, and make sure they know they can always come and talk to us as Foster Parents.
morganadams's picture

morganadams said:

Show compassion. For adoptive children who are now in a more safe environment, they can be torn between the love of the parents they used to know, and the love of the parents they have now. Also, at times feeling guilty, that they love the parents and the family that they have now. So complex and deserve so much compassion. A foster or adoptive parents ego needs to be removed. Completely.