Issue 3 - Coping with Loss
What is Grief
Grief is our natural response to loss; it is the emotional pain we feel when someone or something is taken away from us. Symptoms typically associated with grief include sadness, anger, fear, denial/shock, guild and physical pain. Grief is an individual experience with no timeframe.
Grief is typically associated with the death of a loved one but you can experience grief after any loss (loss of a pet, job, friendship, relationship, financial security, and health).
(From The Help Guide)
The video below goes through the grieving process, as it pertains to death. This process can be attributed to other forms of loss as well.
A Pandemic of Loss
The Covid-19 pandemic is not only causing increased feelings of stress and anxiety but also sadness as we grieve loved ones we may have lost but also a life we once knew. As a whole we are experiencing the loss of gathering with family and friends, celebrations (birthdays, weddings, proms, and graduations), school, going to work, and the simple act of hugging or shaking hands with someone. It is okay, and normal, to be sad about losing these things. Within a few short days the world as we knew it changed and it's difficult to know when, and if, things will ever go back to "normal".
It's important to acknowledge and work through your grief, a process called mourning. Dr. Alan Wolfelt names Six Basic Needs of Mourning:
- Need 1: Acknowledge the reality of the pandemic as well as your grief
- Need 2: Honor all of your feelings
- Need 3: Practice gratitude for the good in your life
- Need 4: Be kind to yourself
- Need 5: Search for meaning
- Need 6: Reach out to others to give and accept support
Read the full article and access the video
Mourning the Loss of the School Year
Students of all ages are mourning the loss of the school year. They are mourning the daily interactions with their friends, classmates, teachers, coaches and other school personnel. They are mourning the clubs, teams, groups, and ensembles they were apart of. They are mourning the end of the year celebrations, including high school graduation, senior award ceremonies, senior and junior proms, "move-up" celebrations, and kindergarten graduations, among others.
Parents/guardians can help their children cope with these losses by
- Validating their feelings: It's okay for children and adolescents to be upset and angry that they will not be returning to school for the remainder of the year.
- Acknowledging their accomplishments: Take time to acknowledge the things they have accomplished over the course of the school year and their academic careers.
- Celebrating their accomplishments: Although many end of the year celebrations have been cancelled or postponed, try to find ways to celebrate your children from your own home. Have a small graduation ceremony or end of the year dance with your immediate family.
- Reminding them that this will end: Eventually things will return to some semblance of normalcy. We may not know when that will be or what it will look like but it will eventually happen.
Tips for Reducing Isolation
Social distancing does not necessarily mean isolating yourself. Social isolation can have negative effects on your mental and physical health, including:
- Increased levels of depression and anxiety
- More drug and alcohol use
- Greater risk of suicide
- Increased stress response
It is important to find ways for kids and adults to find ways to connect with family and friends while practicing social distancing. See below for ideas on how kids and adults can stay socially connected.
Millions of people across the country are impacted by mental health conditions. Each year the month of May is nationally recognized to raise awareness of mental health across America.
Did you know
- 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health issue in their lifetime (NAMI)
- 17% of youth (aged 6-17) experience a mental health disorder each year (NAMI)
- Major depression in youth has increased by over 4% in the last 6 years (MHA)
- Over 70% of youth with major depression are in need of treatment (MHA)
- Over 10 million adults have serious thoughts of suicide each year (MHA)
Mental Health America's theme for Mental Health Month 2020 is Tools 2 Thrive. Their aim is to provide practical tools anyone can use to improve their mental health and resiliency.
Tool #1 - Owning Your Feelings
Most people don’t think about taking the time to identify their feelings, but it can help to better cope with challenging situations.
Hatboro Horsham Student Assistance Program
Dawn Tucker, Hatboro Horsham SAP Coordinator
Angela Hiller & Ann Pollock, Merakey SAP Counselors
Hatboro Horsham's Student Assistance Program (SAP) is an in-school service to provide support for students experiencing academic, behavioral and/or emotional difficulties that may pose a barrier for school success. These services include group and individual support, peer mediation, and help connecting families to community resources.
Hatboro Horsham School District partners with Merakey, a behavioral health agency, to contract counselors out at the elementary, middle and high school level. For more information about SAP services you can contact Dawn Tucker, email@example.com. For specific concerns or questions about your child, please reach out to your child’s school counselor.