Grieving, Sharing, and Healing

A Guide for Facilitating Early Adolescent Bereavement Groups
Pages: 228
ISBN: 9780878225019
Item Number: 5249


The authors focus on building a culture of mutual aid within a bereavement group – a place where young adolescents learn to help each other cope and come to terms with death, loss, and grief.

For use in schools and other settings, the safety of the group allows youth to express emotions and confront feelings such as regret, anger, and guilt.

The first part of the book provides detailed information on how to plan, organize, and implement a bereavement group with this vulnerable population.

The second part provides a 12-week curriculum containing a variety of reading, writing, discussion, and art activities. The program was developed and field-tested over the past 10 years by the Children’s Bereavement Project, a community-based organization located in New York City.

Appendices contain sample letters, permission slips, schedules, and other helpful information for implementing the program.

Book Reviews

“Very clear and concise, the message is on the focus of the adolescent who is undergoing grief, understanding the components of grief, the need for support groups, the impact of grief on the community, school, and peers, and how to place closure.”

—Deborah Hardy, New York State School Counselor’s Association Newsletter

Grieving, Sharing, and Healing provides a valuable resource to any school counselor working with young adolescents. For those who need ideas of how to help students deal with grief, those who feel they need to know more about this issue, or for those who work with students dealing with other losses (divorce, separation from family), this book is full of quality research in an easy-to-read format.”

—Lynn Merlone, New Hampshire School Counselor’s Association Newsletter

“Developed by the Children’s Bereavement Project in New York . . . A great all inclusive resource.”

—Virgina Rose, Oregon School Counselor’s Association Newsletter

“A comprehensive guide to understanding adolescent bereavement and helping young teenagers cope with loss. The first part of the book is a thoughtful and well-researched analysis into the impact of grief on adolescents. This guide for facilitators addresses the factors affecting an adolescent’s grieving process and establishes guidelines for planning a bereavement group that is customized to meet the needs of its members. The book’s second part suggests activities and worksheets for each stage of the grieving process, including surveys and poetry prompts for youth.”

Youth Today

“The authors not only outline the objectives and rationale for each of the twelve weeks, but also provide a step-by-step process by which each group should be conducted as well as a list of materials and full-size copies of the worksheets used for each group. Although the book is described as a ‘Guide’ in the subtitle, it would certainly qualify as a ‘Manual’ for anyone wishing to replicate this particular method of group work.”

—Robert H. Ayasse, Social Work with Groups

“The authors present a cogent and complete process that clearly outlines the steps necessary for adolescents to learn the language of loss and grief, to express feelings in an appropriate manner, to connect with peers and adults, and to learn how to progress and move on with life. . . . It is our role as school psychologists to help children and teenagers learn that it is appropriate to grieve and to heal. This book provides a straightforward outline for helping to accomplish just that.”

—Jill Greenstein, New York School Psychologist

Part I

  1. Adolescents in Grief
  2. Groups as Effective Tools for Grieving Adolescents
  3. Planning a Bereavement Group for Adolescents
  4. Responsibilities and Characteristics of Bereavement Group Facilitators
  5. The Evolving Role of the Facilitator during the Three Stages of the Bereavement Group
  6. Bereavement Groups in Schools

Part II

  1. Activities for the Beginning Stage
    • Week 1: Feelings Sheet
    • Week 2: Death Brainstorm Web
    • Week 3: Guided Reflection through Visualization
    • Week 4: Without My Dad
  2. Activities for the Middle Stage
    • Week 5: Window to My Soul
    • Week 6: Memorial Poem
    • Week 7: Treasures from the Past
    • Week 8: Letters to Loved Ones
  3. Activities for the Ending Stage
    • Week 9: Balloon Release
    • Week 10: Looking Backward . . . Looking Forward
    • Week 11: Folders and Termination
    • Week 12: Celebration of Life

The curriculum is designed to take place during the course of 12 weeks, with group members participating in weekly one-hour sessions. The goal is to use a combination of activities and discussion topics to create a safe forum in which young adolescents (10-15 years of age) can begin to explore the effects of a death on their lives as well as lend support to each other during this process. A variety of different mediums are used to facilitate group and self-expression: art, writing, reading, poetry as well as verbal sharing. The curriculum is structured in three stages (beginning, middle, and ending) to facilitate the development of mutual aid, the process by which group members learn to help and support one another.

Beginning Stage

  • To help group members get to know each other, the facilitator, and the group process, including group rules and confidentiality
  • To create a safe environment in which the facilitator works to build and model trust within the group
  • To identify and normalize commonalities and differences between the group members with regard to their experiences and feelings
  • To begin to discuss thoughts regarding death – family patterns of grieving; influence of religion, culture, etc.
  • To begin to share personal experience of loss

Middle Stage

  • To help group members to communicate and support each other
  • To allow group members to tell their stories and to explore the pain they feel
  • To support group members as they remember their loved ones
  • To help the group to identify the changes and reality of their lives since their loved ones died
  • To help group members reflect on their feelings of loss, including sadness, anger, depression, and guilt
  • To allow group members to feel connected to their loved ones, focusing on unresolved feelings

Ending Stage

  • To identify unresolved feelings and regrets
  • To help group members to feel connected to their loved ones
  • To facilitate group members through the feelings of termination and loss as the group ends
  • To encourage group members to think about their lives beyond the death they are grieving and toward their life goals
  • To continue discussion about death, especially about the handling of future losses
  • To help group members to explore their strengths and struggles, both as individuals and as a group, so that they can recognize what is truly important to them in their lives
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