Understanding grief in teens and children

Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2010

How do children, teens, friends and parents deal with the loss and emotions that accompany death? Dr. Ken Doka, a professor of clinical psychologist and noted expert on grief in children and adolescents, will be speaking about grief in children and adolescents at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. This presentation is for all ages, whether you are a student who lost a friend, a parent who lost a child or a child who lost his parents.

Doka is a professor of gerontology at the Graduate School of The College of New Rochelle and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America. He has written many books and professional papers on death, grief and spirituality, and he has a special interested in grief in children and adolescents. He has appeared on CNN and Nightline, and participated in many national and international panels. He has received many honors over the years. In 2005, the Hospice Foundation of Poughkeepsie, NY named him Honoree of the Year, and in 2000 Scott and White presented him an award for Outstanding Contributions to Thanatology and Hospice.

Attitudes toward death change as a person matures. Unexpected loss by any means can complicate grieving and the interventions that are successful with adults are not always appropriate for children and teens. Doka has agreed to come to Juneau because of the recent tragic deaths and accidents of several young people in our community. Students and parents in Juneau have struggled recently with grief and are unaware of how to seek help or where to get it. More importantly, the loss of these young people made all of us realize that we are all unprepared and unable to talk about the meaning of unexpected death.

The Foundation For End of Life Care, in partnership with The Douglas-Dornan Foundation, the Juneau Medical Society, the Youth Action Committee (YAC) and Westmark Baranof Hotel has sponsored this event so it can be offered at no cost to the public.

• Virginia Palmer is the president of the Foundation of End of Life Care in Juneau.

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