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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Parental Bereavement Following the Loss of a Child

by Anna Zacharcenko, PsyD 3 CE Credits

The loss of a child can present many emotional challenges for parents given an underlying assumption that parents will not outlive their offspring.  The death of a child may impact the psychological morbidity and overall health of remaining family members. Given their proximity to such events, health care professionals are in a unique position to provide support and facilitate the bereavement process of parents. This course examines parental bereavement patterns based upon the type of loss as well as predictors of complicated parental bereavement. The role of mental health care professionals in supporting parents is illustrated through review of bereavement follow-up and intervention programs. In addition, specific applications of bereavement intervention strategies, along with case examples, are examined.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours, ASWB Clinical CE clock hours, and NYSED CE credit.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction: Relevance and Prevalence
  • Defining Bereavement: Normal vs. Complicated
  • Examining Conceptual Models of Bereavement
  • Common Parental Bereavement Patterns
  • The Impact of Time on the Grieving Process
  • Gender Differences in Parental Bereavement
  • Case Examples of Parental Bereavement
  • Assessing Bereavement
  • Bereavement Interventions: The Role of Healthcare Professionals
  • Self-Help and Other Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Discuss the prevalence of pediatric death in the U.S. and the role mental health providers can play in facilitating bereavement among surviving parents.
  • Describe at least 3 patterns of parental bereavement, recognize how 2 important factors (e.g., gender, time) impact the grief process, and differentiate between ‘normal’ and complicated bereavement.
  • Identify 6 theory- and evidence-based measures to assess grief and 3 effective clinical strategies for working with grieving families, as well as self-help or alternative resources to incorporate into treatment.