Grief and the Children of 9/11

Good_Grief_logoSeptember 11, 2001 changed America forever. The myriad of ways that change occurred still reverberate in our collective consciousness. All of us were affected in some way. Perhaps the silent victims of this day were the children of the victims of this event. On this day, nearly 3,000 children lost a parent. Most of these young people were an average age of nine years old.* So considerable was this loss of life on 9/11, that there may have been no day on American soil since the Civil War when more children had a parent die.

The losses experienced by the people of this country will not soon be forgotten. 9/11 changed the national perspective on grief. Children and teens that had loved ones die in this event shed a light on the grief that we were all experiencing as a country, and also created a space for recognizing that every day in our country young people have loved ones die in many other ways. The nation learned many lessons about grief in the months following 9/11, and the ways we heal. However, ten years later, we still grapple with the task of supporting our children and neighbors through grief and loss. Research shows that an estimated one in nine Americans will lose a parent before age 20** . The death of a parent remains one of our society's most poorly understood issues.

Consider these preliminary results from a groundbreaking survey among parents of kids who have had a parent die that Good Grief is working on in conjunction with the National Alliance for Grieving Children and the New York Life Foundation:

  • 78% say they think about their deceased spouse/partner every day.
  • 91% say the death of their spouse/partner is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.
  • 77% say it's very hard/hard to know what is "normal" kid behavior vs. what is grief related.
  • 78% agree that there are not enough resources to help kids who have had parents to die; 76% believe there are not enough resources for parents who have had a spouse die.

While the full results will not be released until mid-November, we believe these few data points powerfully articulate just how devastating the early death of a loved one can be – on parent and child alike. Yet, shockingly, little has been reported on the subject of childhood bereavement. There will be lots of commentary leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but you can bet that one of the issues that will not receive its due attention is the impact of having a parent die. The children of 9/11 are now in high school and college, and their parent's legacies can extend far beyond the confines of Ground Zero. We believe 9/11 represents a unique opportunity to focus on this poorly understood issue. At Good Grief, we interact with grieving families – kids and parents alike – every day. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we'd love the opportunity to speak with you about the impact of childhood loss and the critical role centers like ours can play in helping grieving families to heal.

To learn more about supporting grieving children please click on the below links:

10 Things Grieving Children Want You to Know
10 Ways to Support Grieving Children

You may also visit www.childrengrieve.org or www.good-grief.org

* Schorn, Daniel.(2009, November 10). Tuesday's Children. 60 Minutes. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/08/60minutes/main1989753.shtml

** Comfort Zone Camp. (2010, March 22). Retrieved from http://www.hellogrief.org/httpwp/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/General-Population-Release-Revised1.pdf

Last modified onTuesday, 19 March 2013 15:52

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