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LOSS Program Office
721 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60654

Main Line: (312) 655-7283
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From the Desk of Deborah Major
Sunday, March 01, 2015 by Deborah Major
The loss of a loved one to suicide represents a critical turning point, because it imposes into the survivor’s life a crisis of attachment and of identity.  What we hear in the first moments of every caller’s voice is shock, devastation, confusion and a sense of feeling utterly overwhelmed.  We hear these questions sometimes openly stated, at other times implied beneath the details of each caller’s story: “How am I to make sense of this? What am I supposed to do next?  How could this have happened? Why did he do this?”  Often callers interpret the suicide as containing a message from the loved one that the survivor feels compelled to decode: “What was he trying to tell me?”  Those who did not receive a note persist in the hope of finding one, a final communication that would explain why she chose to end the relationship so abruptly and in such a painful manner.   Those who did receive a note return to it repeatedly, hoping to understand the loved one’s frame of mind and the meaning beneath the words.  Suicide, more than other deaths, holds significant relationship meaning for those left behind.  In the earliest phases of the grief process, survivors see the suicide as encrypted with deep meaning about the relationship that they shared with the deceased.   Indeed, if we lose a loved one to cancer, the crisis of attachment may also emerge, but the struggle with the relationship meaning will never be connected to the cancer itself.
The Implications of Loss and Grief for Infants
Sunday, March 01, 2015 by Cynthia Waderlow MSE, LCSW
The Children’s Program has been privileged to work with bereaved children ranging in age from 3 to 19.   In addition to following research literature, we’ve been able to observe and learn about their grief responses according to developmental stages, and this is ongoing, as more young survivors share their experiences and questions about their losses.  We apply the model for relevant goals and outcomes, and to encourage the best support for each child to move through the grief process while maintaining or even enhancing development. Although there are some universal expectations for each developmental stage, every young person has unique inner resources and challenges, and the particular contexts of the child’s life also shape the individual needs and expressions of grief after the death of a parent or sibling. Because such losses do have developmental implications for children, we know that parent consultation and counseling for children provides much needed guidance and support.  Esther Shapiro, an authority on grieving families, states that “repair of our shattered selves following the death of a loved one depends both on our relationship resources and on the specific tools of our developmental moment “      (p. 87).  A wealth of information related to grief and family development can be found in her book, cited at the end of this article.