Eileen co-founded "The Grief Support Program for Children and Adolescents" at Notre Dame of St. Agatha Children's Mental Health Centre in St. Agatha, Ontario, where she worked for eight years as a Child and Family Therapist and Grief Therapist. She co-authoured a publication entitled, "Grief Responses and Group Treatment for Five-to Eight-Year-Old Children," in the series, Beyond the Innocence of Childhood, edited by David Adams and Eleanor Deveau, 1995. This work was based on seven years of research she collected while conducting grief support groups for children 5-8, 9-13 and adolescents 14-21 years of age. Eileen also conducted a "Grief Support Group for Women Who Have Lost a Partner."
Children & Adolescents
Death means different things to children at different ages, depending on their developmental level. Children between the ages of 4-5 years of age are just beginning to grasp the concept of irreversibility. Children between 5-8 years of age and younger will exhibit regressive behaviours and personify the concept of death as monsters threatening to consume them. 5-8 year olds fear that other loved-ones will also die and they need extra reassurance.
Children between 9-13 years of age will also worry about their own death and tend to use humour to diffuse the intensity of their grief responses. Bereaved adolescents face the big questions of existence with an urgency to find answers and they may engage in risk-taking and self-destructive behaviours in order to challenge fate.
Children experiencing separation/divorce face a loss of a different kind. As they grieve the loss of an intact family, they often cope with memories of witnessing parental conflict, they have to adapt to new living and access arrangements, and on occasion, children are exposed to situations of parental alienation.
Adults & Families
Grief has a will of its own that insists on our attention. If we listen, we are confronted with our deepest vulnerabilities and also reminded that we need one another in order to heal. On your grief journey, we can work together to gently transform tragedy into opportunity. We will discuss the facts about grieving to familiarize you with the complex manifestations of bereavement.
In your grief work, you will carve out time in a safe, confidential space to honour and share memories of your loved-one and to explore and define roles you played and needs that were met in that relationship. You will also learn cognitive, behavioural strategies to cope with the uncomfortable aspects of grief and finally to internalize your connection with your loved-one.
Individuals facing separation/divorce have a unique set of loss issues to cope with, including dislocation and loneliness, single-parenting children in transition, continuing to co-parent and negotiate with ex-partners regarding the children’s well-being and blended family situations.