Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Concerning Children and Grief- Did You Know?

Did You Know? 

According to the US Social Security Administration, 1.9 million youth under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents.

A parent’s death usually makes a severe impact on the child, research shows.  After losing a parent, 85% of children exhibit such symptoms as difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts, worry, depression, bed-wetting, and thumb-sucking.  After a year, more regressive behaviors may fade, but other problems, such as lack of confidence and preoccupation with illness, are likely to continue. (Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center of Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis as reported in Chicago Tribune Magazine.)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of every 20 children age 15 and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents.  These statistics do not account for the number of children who lose a “parental figure,” such as a grandparent or other relative that provide care.

The number of single parent homes has skyrocketed, displacing many children in this country.  Approximately 30% of U.S. families are now being headed by a single parent, and in 80% of those families, the mother is the sole parent.  The United States is the world’s leader in fatherless families.  Father absence contributes to crime and delinquency.  Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers. (U.S. Census Bureau report)

Lastly, children of divorced parents are seven times more likely to suffer from depression in adult life than people of similar age and background whose parents have not divorced.  (Study by Bernard Lerer and Ofer Agid of the Biological Psychiatric Unit at Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem, as reported in Molecular Psychiatry, 1999)

These facts are discouraging.  However, we should not despair.  As a society we have made great strides in understanding the impact of loss on grief on children’s lives.  Places like Rick’s House of Hope, local hospice organizations and others provide services for grieving children, including support groups and camp experiences.  It now falls to you – the parent, the grandparent, the aunt or uncle to reach out for the help that is there for the child you love.  It’s okay to ask for help.  You can’t do this alone.  You are hurting, too.  Good luck and God bless. Keep reading to learn more about Rick’s House of Hope!!! 

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