Counselor Discusses Handling Kids' Grief

By Piccininni, Ann | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 11, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Counselor Discusses Handling Kids' Grief


Piccininni, Ann, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Ann Piccininni Daily Herald Correspondent

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of terrorist attacks in the United States, about 150 counselors, clergy, social workers, hospice and funeral workers gathered Thursday in Carol Stream to hear renowned grief counselor Alan Wolfelt talk about grief and mourning among children and teens.

Wolfelt, who has been a featured guest on "Oprah," "The Larry King Show," and "Nick News," is the director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colo.

"How appropriate, on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, that we come together to talk about death and grief and loss," Wolfelt said.

The program at the Holiday Inn was sponsored by Heartland Home Health Care and Hospice, a health care provider network with local offices in Palatine and Hillside.

"A bereaved child or teen's life is like a piece of paper (where) we, as adults, have a dangerous opportunity to leave a mark," Wolfelt said.

In North American cultures, Wolfelt said, people commonly encourage children to "buck up" and quickly resolve their feelings of loss to achieve closure.

"More and more children are told to close their heart to grief," he said. "Other cultures don't even know what we're talking about when we use terms like 'closure.'"

The American culture's reluctance to deal with issues surrounding death can have dire consequences, he said.

That's why, Wolfelt said, he's teaching people to provide more effective help for children who are grieving and mourning.

"I've become what I call a 'responsible rebel,' " he said.

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