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Family Grief Counseling

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Imagine that you are the counselor who will be working with the family described in the attached case study.
Describe the stage each member of the family is at. Explain how you may be able to help the individual family members and the family as a whole. Describe how each family member's grief reaction is different.


Son: Your father has just died after a year-long struggle with cancer. It is only a few weeks before you are to enter college as a freshman, and you are feeling anxious about leaving home for the first time and have experienced panic several times. You feel guilty that you are going to college rather than getting a job to help your family financially. You feel sad but don't allow yourself to cry, feeling it's not manly.

Daughter: You are 17 and a senior in high school. Your father has died of cancer, just prior to the beginning of school. You feel the loss deeply but can't express your feelings. When your family wants to talk about your dad's death, you withdraw.

Daughter: You are 14 and in the last year of junior high school. Your dad has just died after a year-long bout with cancer. You want to rebel against your family and do your own thing but feel some guilt that you might be hurting your mother. You are annoyed with your older sister because she refuses to discuss things about your dad's death.

Mother: You are left with three childrenâ?" a 19-year-old son, who is just entering college; a 17-year-old daughter; and a 14-year-old daughter. You are concerned about how you are going to make it financially and how you are going to cope emotionally without your husband. You are also in touch with some anger at your husband for dying and leaving you with all this responsibility. These feelings scare you. You are concerned about your son leaving home, your older daughter's inability to express her grief, and your younger daughter's alienation from your family.

Counselor: You have been asked by a mother, who recently lost her husband after a year-long bout with cancer, to sit down with her and her three childrenâ?" a 19-year-old son, a 17-year-old daughter, and a 14-year-old daughterâ?" and help them discuss their feelings and make realistic plans for the future. The mother feels overwhelmed by her situation. Your task is to facilitate the grief work and help them with whatever they ask for help with.

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In this particular case, as the counselor I have been approached by the mother of 3 children to help her family as they are in a difficult situation. She recently lost her husband to cancer and all their 3 kids, 2 daughters, a 17 and 14 year old and a son, 19 are dealing with his loss in varied ways. In this review, I will be looking at the ways each of the family members are dealing with his loss, their stages of grief and the possible assistance and intervention that can be provided to help the family deal with bereavement and ease them into the reality of his loss to cope as best as possible inspite of the circumstance. How can they best cope for the future? How can they work through it together as a family? How can they best support each other? To begin with, it is important to situate the grief of each family member.

Stages of Grief

Grief is common among those who have lost a loved one as is the case with this family. The death of the father is made much more profound due to the fact that they witnessed his battle with cancer until he eventually succumbed. His loss is a major event in the lives of his wife and kids. Grief and bereavement is what is going on here with the latter referring to the experience of his loss. They are all mourning his death and it appears that this has put each family member at variance. The mother feels anger - she feels ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides information, assistance and advise in tackling the task (see above) that requires the analysis of a family and their particular members in relation to their grief (and the stage of where each one is at) due to a tragedy. Resources are listed for further exploration of the topic.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Counseling Case Study: Parents' Grief

Take on the role as a counselor who will be working with the family described in the case study below. You are responsible for:
- Seeing the family
- Assessing the issues
- Suggesting an appropriate mode of intervention for the family.

Case Study:
Mother: Your son, age 15, was killed suddenly one evening a year ago. He was a passenger in a car driven by his 16-year-old friend, and the car went out of control. Since that time you have been inconsolable. This boy was your firstborn, talented, and clearly your favorite. You cannot understand why your husband and two other children are not as grief stricken as you are. You have moments of deep rage that are targeted either at your husband, the boy who drove the car, or your younger son, who won't talk about his dead brother.

Father: You lost your 15-year-old boy in a car accident a year ago. For the first couple of months you felt devastated and cried a lot when you were alone. Although you still miss him, you believe that you, your wife, and your two remaining children need to move on with your lives. Your wife cries much of the time, and you feel tension in the family. Because of this, you have contacted a family counselor to straighten all this out.

Brother: You are 13, and your 15-year-old brother died in a car accident a year ago while riding with a friend. You always felt inferior to your brother, and you felt somewhat relieved when he died. Now you feel guilty about these feelings. His memory and presence linger around the house, but when people talk about him, you get up and leave the room. This behavior upsets the rest of the family, but you don't care.

Sister: You are the 9-year-old sister of a boy, age 15, who was killed when the car he was riding in went out of control. You feel sad and miss your brother. Your sadness is even worse because your mother is not as close to you as before, and you feel you have lost her too. You are not sure what to do to get your mother back.

Counselor: You have been contacted by the father of a 15-year-old boy who was killed a year ago in a car accident to do family grief counseling. Your role is to see them, assess the issues, and suggest an appropriate mode of intervention. (This scenario could be played out over several therapy sessions.)

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