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The Children's Issues

Bereavement in Early Childhood


Learn how grief and loss affect young children.

Program Description

Suffering is not restricted by age nor prohibited to the young.
In Victor Frankel’s book, "Man’s Search for Meaning," he says that we must make larger sense out of our suffering. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering. Each person must find out for himself the purpose of his suffering. No one can fix it for anyone else. With this preface, we turn to the award winning film, “Ponette,” the fictional story of a 4-year-old girl, whose mother is killed in an accident. Even at this young age, Ponette must make meaning for herself and find a way to go on living. As painful as it is for any of us to accept such a tragedy, imagine the difficulty of coming to terms with this when you don’t yet comprehend the concept of death in all its finality.

Learning Objectives

This program provides clinicians with the opportunity to:

Learn to assess the grieving process in the preschool child.

Learn to use children’s art in this assessment.

Learn to help families prepare a child for a funeral and its aftermath.

Learn how to help a child transform grief into a sustaining positive.

Interviews

The Making of Ponette - Jaques Doillon,

There is no greater loss for a child than the loss of her mother. It's a loss that is truly forever. A child's sense of being safe in the world is shattered. Jacques Doillon captures the process involved in this marvelous film. We'll hear in his words how he did this. In this remarkable interview, Mr. Doillon he tells us about his research and how he prepared the script by really listening to children. We'll hear how he worked with the little actors and thoughtfully protected them throughout the filming. Since Doillon's directorial debut in 1972, he has carved out a niche with his intelligent films. In this film, he offers a new variation on a theme familiar from his previous work: the innocence of children contrasted with the reality of adult experience. Amid the pressure of adult reality, Doillon seems to be saying, "Don't give up on your desires."

Treating the Grieving Child - Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.

D.W. Winnicott said healthy children are better at dealing with death than healthy adults. Every child has a different coping mechanism for dealing with the news that a parent had died, and the most important thing is for the child to know her remaining parent is available. After the initial shock is over, the surviving parent or guardian must ensure the child's life remains stable. Plus, children need adults to help them navigate through the chaos of death, the many questions, the magical thinking, and all the intense feelings of grief and loss. The second interview references the award winning movie Ponette, the fictional story of a 4-year-old girl, whose mother is killed in an accident. There is no greater loss for a child than the loss of her mother. It's a loss that is truly forever, and a child's sense of being safe in the world is shattered. Even at Ponette's young age, she must make meaning for herself and find a way to go on living. As painful as it is for any of us to accept such a tragedy, imagine the difficulty of coming to terms with this when you don't yet comprehend the whole concept of death in all its finality.

Understanding Children's Art - Cathy Malchiodi, LPCC

For many children, drawings are the only means of communicating the unspeakable. As we just heard, Jacques Doillon prepared for his film by asking children to draw pictures of their idea of death and then to explain these drawings. We provide a few of these drawings, and Cathy Malchiodi, an expert in children's art, discusses using children's art in our work with them.

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Client Testimonials


“Interviews were clear, concise, to the point – an enjoyable way to learn.”


... Joe F.
LCSW


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