Credit hours:

Course Summary

For youth in care, placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt. In order to effectively serve and provide for young people, we need to help them recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Gain knowledge and tools to help your child cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss through this course.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • About ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges foster youth face through the grieving process
  • Understand how grief and trauma can manifest in a young person's behavior
  • Strategies a young person 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 the valuable introduction it provides about young peoples' grief in foster care:

Step 2

The effects of grief that children in foster care experience vary by the developmental age of the child. 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.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children", to learn about the inevitable loss a young person experiences during their foster care experience (sometimes over and over again) 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 young person in foster care experiences 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?

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Course Discussion

michelle aranda's picture

michelle aranda said:

Understand mental illness and addiction is not the person. Understanding and holding space for the person to heal from grief and loss.
Sparsons's picture

Sparsons said:

Always be willing to listen
Sparsons's picture

Sparsons said:

Always be willing to listen
PattiH's picture

PattiH said:

Always be willing to listen without judgement.
Cheferin84's picture

Cheferin84 said:

I always tell my foster child to let his big feelings out and that I am always here to listen and help him through his feelings.
tdregely's picture

tdregely said:

It is important for those suffering from grief and loss to feel those feelings. Ignoring them will not help the child in the least. They need to know that it is OK to feel sad and that there is also no timeline or "correct" way to grieve.
Marsham's picture

Marsham said:

Give them time to think and process. Give them a safe space to talk and express themselves. If you as tbe parent need help with teaching this, ask for it.
Lmcelheny's picture

Lmcelheny said:

It is really important to validate feelings and emotions. Yes you are sad/mad/confused - that is normal and it is ok. Then there are more opportunities to develop coping strategies.'s picture

mikenjulieclark... said:

sometimes all you can do is listen and be there's picture

mikenjulieclark... said:

all you can do is be there. be understanding and help them through the process.