By Dr. George Kurian
In a world filled with increasing violence, death, abuse, and other tragedies, children can become the invisible, silent mourners whose need for grieving goes unnoticed or overlooked. To the extent that children are able to express their grief when it matters, they will grow into adulthood as healthy individuals capable of handling the challenges of life. This article presents an overview of what normal and traumatic grief reactions are and explores the role of healthy grieving for adolescents. Through case examples, using a family therapy model, this article presents Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) as a simple, practical way to help adolescents cope with their normal grief reactions of depression, anxiety, anger, feelings of rejection, and sense of worthlessness. Regardless of what theoretical orientations or therapy models counselors are accustomed to using in their practice, EFT can serve as a useful tool in helping clients successfully engage in healthy attachment styles within a secure “safe haven” relationship. Moreover, for counselors of faith, the role of spirituality is explored as a way to facilitate healthy grieving for those struggling to cope with traumatic events of childhood.