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Grief Counseling

The Bishop McNamara High School Counseling Center is here to support our parents, our students, and our administrators, faculty and staff during times of grief and loss.  Our counselors are trained to provide grief counseling and support.  If you or your child has suffered a loss and would like to speak to a counselor please contact the Counseling Center to make an appointment.

Helping Your Grieving Child

It is very important that you talk to your child when he/she has suffered the loss of a loved one.  The New York University Child Study Center website provides some excellent information on helping teenagers cope with tragedy.  We strongly recommend the article on When Someone Close to your Child Dies Suddenly:  A Guide for Parents. Please take the time to read it; the second portion of the website is specifically geared toward helping a teenager who has lost a peer.  It offers information and guidance for parents on responding to your child’s grief and creating an ongoing dialogue with your child.  The first part of the web page may be helpful to you as well, as it guides us in how to help a friend or loved one cope.

Some students will need more support than others.  It is important to seek professional counseling if, after a matter of time, you feel your student is still struggling with his/her emotions.  Please read the “Symptoms of Complicated Grief” section below to help gather information about whether your student may need professional support.  If you feel your child would benefit from professional counseling we recommend that you work with a counselor who is experienced in providing grief and loss counseling.  Your health insurance provider and/or your pediatrician may be able to recommend a counselor.

Myths and Facts About Grief

MYTH:  The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.

Fact:  Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run.  For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.

MYTH:  It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.

Fact:  Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss.  Crying doesn’t mean you are weak.  You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front.  Showing your true feelings can help them and you.

MYTH:  If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.

Fact:  Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one.  Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others.  They may simply have other ways of showing it.

MYTH:  Grief should last about a year.

Fact:  There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving.  How long it takes differs from person to person.

Source:  Center for Grief and Healing

Symptoms of Complicated Grief

• Feeling that life is empty or meaningless.
• Extreme anger or bitterness over the loss.
• Denial of the death or sense of disbelief.
• Searching for the person in familiar places.
• Avoiding things that remind you of the loved one.
• Intrusive thoughts or images of the loved one.
• Imagining that your loved one is alive.
• Intense longing and yearning for the deceased.