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Listening to the language of children’s grief

Publication year
Gilroy, C.; Johnson, P.

This qualitative study, utilizing participant observation, explored children’s expression of grief in a peer support group of five, eight to ten year old children -with a life-threatening illness in their family. The research took place at The Center For Grieving Children, a specialized grief center in New England, which provides grief services based upon a peer-support model. The themes arising from the participant observation of the study group were: (a) connection and cooperation; (b) attempts to understand and explain; (c) physical expression and play; (d) view of self, and (e) avoidance of feelings and (f) regression of language. A crucial need of a grieving child is being able to have a safe space in which they can express their own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, without feeling judged by adults who may hold different or contradictory views. The availability of such a space in combination with supportive adults, who can provide age-appropriate activities and interests, appears to be of paramount importance.

Research abstracts