Readjustment Model of Parental Bereavement for Professionals

By Shanun-Klein, H (formerly: Kagan (Klein),H):

Adapted from: Kagan (Klein), H. (1998). Gili’s Book, A Journey into Bereavement for Parents and CounselorsNew York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

FOR PROFESSIONALS WHO WORK WITH BEREAVED PARENTS – FACTORS TO CONSIDER:

1. The symbolic meaning of the deceased child’s life to the parent.

2. That child’s personality.

3. That child’s dreams and aspirations, and the parent’s dreams for that child.

4. That child’s age and history.

5. The relationships with this child.

6. The parent’s outlook on life before the loss.

7. The parent’s aspirations, achievements and failures.

8. Other losses the parent had, and how reacted to each one.

9. The parent’s premonitions about that child’s death.

10. Reactions to premonitions that the child might have had, may also help in identifying sources for guilt or even hope, depending on the parent’s beliefs.

11. Reactions to previous losses, types of losses, and previous trauma, as indicators of resiliency.

12. Temperament, mental and physical health of the parent prior to, during, and after the death of the child, will assist in making a more accurate observation of the parent’s condition.

13. Distinguish among: Depression unrelated-to bereavement, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Deep Sadness. These distinctions are crucial in order to provide the most appropriate help to the bereaved parent.

14. Do not suggest medication for Deep Sadness. Medication may mask the grief reactions, and hinder the healthy progression of Inward and Outward Steps.

15. The bereaved parent has to feel the pain to its fullest. Do not attempt to “take it away” from her or him.

16. Family structure, relationships and conflicts, and Social support, may be identified as an important cause for the parent’s resiliency; their survival and their striving to live.

17. Cultural context of the loss, Spiritual beliefs and practices, may determine the process of readjustment, its pace, the quantity and quality of the Inward and Outward Steps to be taken.

18. Employment, litigation, and financial situation, are important factors affecting the process of readjustment.

19. Acknowledge the normalcy and uniqueness of parental grief.

20. Be a ‘companion’ on a journey rather than an ‘expert’ observer; Consider special ethical guidelines.

21. Provide more facilitative/supportive counseling than analysis and therapy.

22. Allow yourself to be taught by grief, yours and that of your client’s.

23. Help your clients in finding new meaning in their lives to turn ‘surviving’ into ‘living.’

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