The Negative Effects of Unresolved Grief Among Family Members

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The Negative Effects of Unresolved Grief Among Family Members
The death of a parent is the most traumatic event most families will ever experience. The primary support after such an event comes from the surviving family members and close friends who knew the deceased parent. Additional help can be received from psychologists, grief counselors, and other professionals. Resolving short term shock and long term grief following the loss of a parent can be extremely difficult based on the age of the remaining family members and the relationship they had with the deceased parent. It is important to use all resources available to get the family through such an experience. Families who experience the death of a parent, without the support of
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If they fail to work through their grief and their grief is unresolved, they can develop problems later in their adulthood. Sometimes these problems are not too serious, but sometimes they become major, long term emotional handicaps (Fitzgerald, 1994). Usually the short term reactions tend not to last more then a few weeks, and most children regain their previous level of psychosocial functioning. Reports show however, that children who have lost a parent have higher levels of emotional disturbance for up to two years, than children who have not been through such a traumatic event. Up to forty percent of children may show disturbance a year after the loss. Some children may develop learning problems and may fall behind in school. In extreme cases children have suicidal thoughts and long to be with those who have passed on, though these thoughts are rarely acted upon (Black, 1998). Problems can arise because a child who loses a parent also tends to become very protective and anxious about the health and survival of the other parent. Children often protect the surviving parent from knowing that they are in distress. This may lead the parent to believe that the child has not been affected by, or has already recovered from the loss (Black, 1998). The family may then believe that the child has resolved their grief when, in fact, they have not. Young children who lose a parent through death and don’t allow themselves to mourn the loss may experience a strong sense
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