Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Clinical Perspectives on Traumatic Bereavement, Loss, and Grief: A Case Study-Based Approach

Event Title

2nd Annual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Conference

Event Location

Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA

Document Type


Presentation Date



Bereavement under tragic and potentially traumatic circumstance poses a dual challenge to children and their families, and to professionals who work with them. These bereaved individuals can be triply distressed by the death and subsequent loss, by the tragic and traumatic circumstances under which the death occurred, and by often-severe adversities generated by the ensuing loss and the way the death occurred. Using the Core Curriculum Ella Case Study as an example, the presentation will discuss different ways in which grief reactions can appear at different age groups and the critical importance of assessing and including caregivers in work with bereaved children. This presentation will cover basic terms (bereavement, grief, mourning) needed to conceptualize grief reactions. It will also describe Prolonged Grief Disorder PGD), which is included in the forthcoming DSM-5-TR, key risk factors. It will also discuss our national epidemics (COVID, overdose, alcohol, suicide, homicide) and ways in which they increase the risk for PGD and other long-term difficulties with mental health, behavior, and functioning. COVID-19 and other epidemics are exerting devastating effects globally, including a “second wave” of secondary mental health consequences. This presentation will discuss new opportunities to raise the standard of bereavement care. Given that most bereaved individuals grieve within a normal/adaptive range, it will emphasize the need for a strength-based approach to assessing and helping bereaved youth and families, while also creating risk screening and referral networks for those having serious difficulties. The presentation will conclude with practical recommendations for distinguishing grief from PTSD and major depression, promoting good grief, and creating risk screening and referral networks.


  • Describe the “second wave” emerging from COVID-19 and other epidemics, and the need to create bereavement-informed systems of care.
  • Discuss risks associated with bereavement and grief across the life course: What do we know?
  • Describe how to distinguish grief from related problems.
  • Describe basic principles of working with bereaved youth and families