Thesis

Working through the stages of parental bereavement with the adolescent

The adolescent years of life are typically a time when normal physical, emotional and mental development can become turbulent. The identified role of a teenager is to gain independence from his or her parent(s) as they develop their own interests towards a possible career and establish new relationships. However, when the normal development of a teenager is disrupted by the death of a primary caregiver or parent, the effects may severely devastate the adolescent both emotionally and socially. For the adolescent, bereavement can be a serious obstacle to the fulfillment of necessary developmental tasks. In addition to the bereaved adolescent's self-confidence being greatly diminished, the search for meaning and purpose in life could be prolonged late into the adult years. This Master's Graduate Project was developed to create a healing workbook to address adolescent bereavement from the loss of a parent or caregiver. The goal of this project is to create a useful, age appropriate tool that aids adolescents during a complex and often-confusing time. If the adolescent is better able to mourn their loss, the possibility of not having to experience hospitalization for depression or psychiatric illness is greatly improved. The prevailing research indicates that there is a viable need for additional information and resources to assist the adolescent through the process of parental bereavement. There is a need for more information and age appropriate resources for this population. The structure of this workbook includes education on bereavement, as well as written exercises to encourage the use of language and art in order to facilitate the mourning process by helping to identify the symptoms of grief and encourage expression of grief feelings.

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