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

amendoza's picture

amendoza said:

Let the child know that you are there for them when they need to express their feelings. When they do open up to you, do not judge them for what they are saying. Give them time and space to deal with emotions.
aadams's picture

aadams said:

By listening and opening your heart and no judgment eventually children will come around and speak and open up about their family life and to validate that it is okay to feel the way they do.
Maddie's picture

Maddie said:

I thought I knew a lot but there is always room for more learning. This has helped me understand some to the behaviors of our children and given me ways to help them with their grieving. I especially like the Family Tree Orchard and the idea of a Box of memories.
Teamgile90's picture

Teamgile90 said:

I like the idea of a loss box. We have had a bunch of kids through our home and I think this would help them. I will implement this with the ones I have now. I think it will help them to be able to talk and move forward.
a487246's picture

a487246 said:

We can help by simply listening and letting them know we are there for them
Pieria1991's picture

Pieria1991 said:

I don't know what to say
MarieSmith's picture

MarieSmith said:

For me, I am aware of the guilt and overwhelming saddness our kiddos go through. I realized providing a safe place for them to vent, and feel those emotions is essential. I also didn't realize the developmental phases and what to expect. What an eye opener as I look back and now look forward. Seeing kiddos with the lens of grief and development so helpful.
bunnyrn1's picture

bunnyrn1 said:

I plan to continue a relationship with bio mom via emailed messages/pictures and phone calls. Although she no longer has rights, she will always be my son's mother. I also plan to make our home as stress free as possible and to think of the reason behind unwanted behaviors.'s picture

[email protected] said:

I can help by allowing them to process loss in their on time at their own rate without and expectations will help. Also allowing them to realize that they aren't alone in the process that I am there to help listen, encourage and support.
joysieweaver's picture

joysieweaver said:

I believe that open communication is key to healing and dealing with loss. The child never needs to feel like they can't talk about what they are missing.