Losing a Caregiver to COVID: Helping Kids Grieve
Monday, June 20, 2022
Roughly 200,000 children in the U.S. have lost a caregiver to COVID-19. In South Dakota, mental-health experts say these cases can have added complications as kids grieve, and a range of support is needed for a strong emotional recovery.
Nikki Eining is therapist with Avera Behavioral Health and board member for the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment. She said loss of a biological parent falls under the scope of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Eining explained it can affect the child's development, because they lost a relationship that's difficult to replace.
"I might not be receiving that nurturing piece from that caregiver anymore," said Eining, "when I've developed that bond to that caregiver as an infant or a toddler, or even an early elementary-aged youth."
With social-distancing requirements, the child may have not had a chance to say goodbye, and those rules may have kept their support system at bay during the mourning phase.
Eining said that's why it's important for adults in their lives to help build new trusted relationships that offer a sense of bonding. That involvement can come from outside the home, including neighbors, teachers and coaches.
Maureen Murray, director of mental health and prevention services with Youth and Family Services in Rapid City, said her office has responded to a handful of these cases.
She said in situations where a child has to suddenly adapt to a new environment, that can extend the grieving even longer.
"A move, a different school system, loss of friends," said Murray, "even if the surviving parent is struggling with their own grief and is not there emotionally for the child."
She said it's dangerous to assume all kids are resilient, noting some will not show how much they're struggling emotionally.
Murray said providing safe spaces for them to talk when they are ready is important, while adding therapy, such as individual sessions or grief camps can help.
get more stories like this via email
The youngest North Carolina voters could end up shifting the political landscape of the state in the not-too-distant future. New data from the …
Protests have heightened in New York as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins the United Nations General Assembly today. Sonya Meyerson-…
Many across the state of Nevada will celebrate National Public Lands Day tomorrow. Nevadans will be able to visit state parks for free on Saturday…
Across Utah, 10 cities will be using ranked choice voting in the general election in November. In 2018, Utah passed a bill to establish a pilot …
While North Dakota does not have voter registration, civic engagement groups say efforts are still needed to help underserved populations get …
Health and Wellness
Open enrollment begins soon for employer-sponsored health insurance for coverage starting Jan 1. Most people will have multiple options to choose …
Health and Wellness
Health care advocates are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign four bills aiming to lower medical bills, improve transparency, and make health care more …
Rural advocates are supporting the Farmland for Farmers Act in Congress. It would restrict the amount of Iowa farmland large corporations can own…