Grief Counseling for Children in Chicago
Grief can present itself after a number of different experiences. For children, the most common is the loss of a loved one. The permanency of death can be difficult for children to understand or accept. Major life changes, like moving, switching schools, or parental divorce can also result in grief. When a loss occurs, your child might experience a period of bereavement during which they feel sorrow, sadness, and sometimes even anger.
It’s important for parents to understand what the normal grieving process looks like so they can recognize when a child may be having a difficult time coping. If your child is experiencing grief that doesn’t subside over time, treatment can help. Talk therapy with a licensed counselor is often a good place to start. It can be helpful for children to talk to someone who is not directly involved in the loss. Many times, they don’t have the same access to the adults in their lives as they did before the loss. That’s not to place blame on the adults in a child’s life; we’re simply recognizing that when a family goes through loss, everyone is affected.
At Wellington Counseling Group, we take an incredibly supportive approach to grief counseling in Chicago. Here’s how our counselors operate for your child’s benefit.
Understanding the Symptoms of Childhood Grief
The way a child copes with grief depends on their age, relationship with the deceased or absent figure, and previous life experience. It’s important to let them express their emotions, as long as it’s safe, healthy, and constructive. If you’re finding that your child can’t communicate their feelings or is emoting destructively, you may want to get a professional grief counselor involved.
Although grief is often confused with depression, they are not the same. Grief usually occurs in waves and is almost always set off by a specific event or transition. Your child might feel fine one minute and be consumed by sadness the next. Most often, grief lessens over time, but some children experience lingering symptoms of sorrow and sadness. This is called “complicated grief” in psychological circles - it is a persistent and complex bereavement process.
Most people are familiar with the five “stages” of grief popularized by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though these “stages” are certainly relevant in the cycle of grief, they can be a bit misleading.
Ultimately, there is no direct path or timeline that can be universally applied to those experiencing grief. So instead of focusing on a static and confining framework of grief that doesn’t truly exist, we prefer to focus on the array of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms children suffering from grief experience. Simply put, we borrow from the aspects of the five-stage model and apply it more effectively and flexibly.
Among the most common experiences we see in childhood grief are:
- Denial of loss of loved one
- Infantile acts or “regression” to an earlier developmental stage
- Attention-seeking behavior and tantrums
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Trouble eating and sleeping
- Inappropriate or intense attachment to the deceased
- A decline in school performance
- Agitation or an inability to relax
- Anger and hostility
- Depression and despair
- Unresolved feelings of betrayal, guilt, or responsibility
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight and appetite changes
- Suppressed immune system
There are many other physical and psychological symptoms of grief. Counseling can help identify less visible triggers and sources of emotional disruption that will help your child manage their symptoms and maintain control over their life after loss.
Help Your Child Find Solace Through Grief Counseling in Chicago
Grief counseling is an exceptionally effective tool to help bereaved children navigate their personal path through the grieving process. The path of mourning is different for everyone, but with the help of an experienced grief counselor, you and your child can feel confident riding the waves of grief and finding the acceptance needed to move forward.
How We Approach Grief Counseling at WCG
At Wellington Counseling Group, grief counseling is a two-part process: we teach your child how to embrace the path of the grieving process and we help them accept the reality of loss so we can figure out the best way to move forward together.
Our grief counselors are with your child every step of the way so they can learn to successfully navigate the highs and the lows of the grieving process.
Consider WCG for Children’s Grief Counseling in Chicago
If your family has recently suffered a loss, whether that’s the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, or other life change, grief counseling could be exactly what your family needs. Coping after a loss is not easy, especially as a child who may struggle to understand or accept what has happened. Contact our children’s grief counselors today to learn more about our therapy options for children, teens, and families.