Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

Grief is the emotional, cognitive, functional, and behavioral reactions a bereaved person might experience as a result of loss. Although grief is a normal process, in some it becomes prolonged or complicated, requiring intervention. Moreover, aspects of COVID-19 have made the grieving process more difficult, such as ambiguous loss that has no resolution or closure (e.g., social isolation during shelter-in-place), the need to isolate hospitalized patients, rendering families unable to visit or say goodbye, and disruptions in mourning rituals (e.g., not gathering for funerals). Mental health and school mental health personnel are often not fully trained on helping patients manage grief, loss, and bereavement, especially in the types of situations seen during this pandemic.

Here, we highlight MHTTC training and technical assistance products and resources related to grief, loss, and bereavement, as well as a compilation of resources from other reputable organizations. 

To view all resources related to grief, loss, and bereavement, please visit our products and resources catalog and select "grief" from the keyword dropdown menu. For a list of upcoming events, visit our training and events calendar and type in “grief” in the Keyword Search.

Featured MHTTC Resources

In honor of Children's Grief Awareness Month, the MHTTC Network hosted a two-day, no-cost, training experience in November 2023 for the mental health and school mental health workforce. We worked with leading grief experts across the country to strengthen grief sensitivity skills, techniques, and interventions.

The theme for our 2023 GSVLI was

Working with grief in the context of violence: Strengthening our skills to strengthen ourselves

View 2023 GSVLI participant feedback and reflections here.

Day 1 - Wednesday, November 1, 2023: General Mental Health Workforce Sessions

Special focus on gender-based violence, institutional violence, community violence and grief

Access the slide deck from Day 1 here.

View the Day 1 video recording here.

Day 2 - Wednesday, November 2, 2023: School Mental Health Workforce Sessions

Special focus on school violence and grief

Access the slide deck from Day 2 here.

View the Day 2 video recording here.

Grief Fact Sheet Series | MHTTC Network

Mental health professionals and school mental health personnel often do not receive intensive training on helping patients manage grief, loss, and bereavement, particularly grief related to situations seen during this pandemic. This series of fact sheets, developed by the MHTTC Network, is designed to help mental health professionals and school mental health personnel support patients, students, and families who may be experiencing grief at any time, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2022 Grief Virtual Learning Institute Presentations, Recordings and Session Information:

This two-day institute is aimed for those supporting individuals (general mental health and school mental health populations) experiencing grief and loss through COVID 19 and beyond.

  • Access resources from the General Mental Health Workforce and School Mental Health Workforce Sessions here.

2020 Grief Virtual Learning Institute Presentations, Recordings and Session Information:

This two-day institute is geared towards providing frontline workers with tools and strategies that can be used when addressing the needs of individuals experiencing grief and loss during COVID-19 and beyond.

  • Access all materials from the September Grief Institute here. 
  • Access all materials from the November Grief Institute here. 

Additional MHTTC Resources:

Ambiguous Loss: Grieving in the Time of COVID-19, Followed by Live Q&A Session | Northwest MHTTC

This webinar gives you an overview of what grief looks like at any time but especially during a time of ambiguous loss. We talk about how to care for yourself and others in a time of uncertainty.

Communicating Death and Dying to Latino Families during a Pandemic | National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

Talking about death and dying is always difficult, but communicating to families during pandemics like COVID-19 poses special challenges. This presentation discusses strategies for respectfully communicating with Latino families about COVID related end of life issues.

Complicated Grief: Cultural Considerations When Working with Loss in Hispanic and Latino Students and Their Families | National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

This document informs on what complicated grief is and how the Hispanic and Latino children and youth express it. It provides key aspects of Hispanic and Latino culture and three evidence-based interventions that have been proven to work to address the grieving process with Hispanic and Latino children, youths, and their families. Also, it covers how school personnel can manage this process.

Complicated Grief to Moral Injury: Alleviating Moral Suffering | Northeast & Caribbean MHTTC

In this presentation, we explore the varied manifestations that generate moral injury (often applied to frontline professionals), moral distress (usually used with healthcare professionals), soul injury (often described in police or military combatants and referring to losses that are not mourned and guilt and shame that is associated with the loss), and moral suffering. All of these situations arise from inner conflicts that arise from feeling that one’s professional practice does not follow standards of professional practice or ethical principles. In the presentation, we identify factors responsible for moral suffering as well as strategies for self-help as well as interventive strategies for clients designed to ease moral suffering. 

Complicated Grief to Moral Injury: Moral Injury Through the Lens of Diversity and Equity | Northeast & Caribbean MHTTC

Moral Injury is suffering that manifests as a character change in people because of challenges to their core moral foundations, which orient people to what they love and what matters most to them. This presentation will offer prevailing definitions of moral injury, both clinical and spiritual; discuss its relationship to trauma, such as PTSD; describe factors such as various religious and cultural meaning systems, professions, and life circumstances that impact understandings and experiences of it; identify emotions and behaviors that indicate moral suffering; and suggest various strategies that can contribute to healing.

Complicated Grief to Moral Injury: When Grief Becomes ComplicatedNortheast & Caribbean MHTTC

In this presentation, we describe varied forms of grief complicated contrasting them with manifestations of typical grief—and noting factors that make individuals at-risk for complications in the grieving process. We also describe varied evidence-based interventive strategies that have been used with individuals struggling with complicated grief. Finally, we note the ways complicated grief is acknowledged within the DSM-5 and the new diagnosis for Prolonged Grief Disorder that will be evident in the DSM-5-TR.

Coping With COVID in our Everyday Lives: Evidence for What Works | Great Lakes MHTTC

For many of us, the accumulated stress, grief, fatigue, and despair of the Covid-19 crisis pose a significant challenge to our coping resources. While this perfect storm of stressors may be unprecedented, there is much we know about how to cope with and manage stress, even at these levels. In this talk, Dr. Kanter describes new research on predictors of coping with the crisis and effective interventions for reducing depression and loneliness during the crisis. Dr. Kanter integrates these new findings with established science and offers strategies for managing the psychological consequences of the crisis in our everyday lives.

Crisis Readiness, Response, and Recovery Webinar Series | Pacific Southwest MHTTC

Bereavement outside the context of a crisis is common – the vast majority of children experience the death of a close family member or friend. These deaths have a significant and often long-term impact on learning, social and emotional development, behavior, and adjustment. This series provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. 

  • Part 1 - Principles of Commemoration and Memorialization: Commemorative activities and memorialization in schools present opportunities for students and staff to take an active role in constructing an enduring memory related to a crisis event and to honor those whose lives were lost. This session reviews key considerations for planning commemorative and memorial activities in school settings.
  • Part 2 - Supporting Grieving Students During a Pandemic: The current pandemic is associated with a large and growing number of deaths. This presentation provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. This presentation also highlights the unique challenges for supporting students during the pandemic and describe free resources from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students that can be used to address these challenges.
  • Part 3 - When school starts back: Helping students, staff, and yourself cope with crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic: This session summarizes the principles of psychological first aid and common reactions that may be seen in any crisis event, including the current pandemic. It also provides practical advice on how to help students and staff understand and cope with the current pandemic and begin to prepare for what may be needed to offer support to students when schools re-open. The session underscores the need for professional self-care and highlights some of the barriers as well as some potential solutions. 

Fostering Grief Ready Workplaces: A Starter Kit for Mental Health and School Mental Health LeadershipPacific Southwest MHTTC 

This resources aims to provide essential ingredients to guide you and your organization through the basics of supporting a grieving workforce. It recaps the contents covered in a Grief Readiness Lab (April- May 2021) and Series (November-December 2021). An overview of what was explored in the Lab and Series is covered, and a taste of some of the conversations shared among participants are also included. The pilot and series were created and hosted by Workplace Resilience, a program of The Dinner Party, and the Pacific Southwest MHTTC and advised by the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement.

Grief and Loss: An Active Approach for Older Adults | MHTTC Network Coordinating Office

While some talk about stages of grief, the reality is that most of us do not move through grief in a step-by-step way. Having an active approach to grief can empower both older adults and those who serve them to manage this human experience. Differentiating normal grief from prolonged grief disorder and evidence-based treatments are discussed in this training.

Grief, Exhaustion, and Finding Vitality in Behavioral Health Care For Staff | Highlights & Key Concepts

This Q&A document addresses how behavioral healthcare providers can cope with grief, loss, and bereavement both personally and professionally and was developed in conjunction with the "Grief, Exhaustion, and Finding Vitality in Behavioral Health Care for Staff" webinar held on February 10, 2022. View the recorded webinar and other related resources here.

Grief, Loss and Bereavement: Coming to Terms with COVID-related Losses | Northwest MHTTC

These module covers skills for dealing with grief, loss and bereavement related to COVID-related lossesThis is the recording of a live event which offered a small group training setting with breakout rooms and a facilitated learning environment. This module is part of our Disaster Response and Behavioral Health series with Dr. Kira Mauseth. Learn more about the series here.

Helping My Grieving Student: When COVID Loss Comes Into the School | Northeast & Caribbean MHTTC

This session provided practical advice on how to support grieving students in any context. A range of topics were covered, including what not to stay to a grieving student, considerations related to grief across different cultures, identifying and addressing guilt, appropriate academic accommodations, and managing grief triggers. The unique challenges of supporting grieving students during the current pandemic, as well as free resources for addressing these challenges from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, were shared. 

Managing the Impact of COVID-19 in Children, Families and Communities through Prevention StrategiesSoutheast MHTTC

This webinar takes a look at some of the challenges caused by the uncertainty of COVID19, including chronic stress, emotional distress, and loss through the lens of prevention. It provides strategies and solutions for health promotion, with practical tips that translate theory into workable practice. It also provides guidelines for implementing prevention strategies and educating clients on prevention. A workbook via a downloadable PDF accompanies the training to reinforce the concepts provided in the webinar and for use as an ongoing resource.

Native Spirituality: Creating Time and Space for Trauma Recovery and Wellness | New England MHTTC

In this recorded webinar, the topic of native spirituality is discussed. We are now beginning to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and many Native people are taking stock of the past 15 months of physical separation and emotional strain. This discussion with Native spiritual and cultural leaders provides an opportunity to applaud the bravery of our health care providers and community members, and to discuss how Native spirituality can support our ability to regain our health and balance. For many, Native spirituality can be a potential antidote that minimizes the consequences of anxiety, fear, depression, and other stresses caused during the coronavirus crisis.

Restoring the Wounded Soul | National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

In difficult times, rituals provide a certain order to an existence that otherwise might be full of confusion and chaos. Given the current pandemic, loss and grief have taken a front seat. The presenters in this session discuss Latinos' values and rituals as they relate to the current pandemic. The importance of the therapeutic relationship will be discussed as well as approaches and strategies that promote new rituals, new meanings, and a transformative experience. Three case studies are included for group discussion.

Riding the Wave of Stress and Trauma to Enhance Self-Care | Mountain Plains MHTTC

Providers of all occupations are experiencing increased levels of on-the-job stress as they work to respond to the many needs of the individuals they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. This training provides a metaphor for riding the wave of stress, trauma, and grief. It examined how integrating the brain and body response can heal during times of crisis. A focus is provided on maintaining healing practices and building new pathways to enhance self-care. Traditional Indigenous trauma processing and the importance of grief rituals are explored with a discussion of commonalities of cultures.

Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness Series | Mountain Plains MHTTC

In this session one, trainers discuss what has changed as a result of the current health pandemic, how we can prepare rural providers to ask questions to determine isolation/loneliness, and more. Session two provides examples of programs that address rural isolation among older adults, and how they have adapted during the health pandemic. Finally, the third session focuses on grief and loss and supports available in rural areas.

School Mental Health Crisis Leadership Lessons: Voices of Experience from Leaders in the Pacific Southwest Region | Pacific Southwest MHTTC

This guide highlights how school mental health leaders can – and do – work with and through crises; provides an overview of the crisis continuum; explores the intersection between school crises and school mental health leadership; and examines each component of the school crisis continuum (readiness, response, recovery, and renewal) by learning from voices of experience from the field. A complementary Reflection Worksheet is designed to help readers work through the guide.

Strategies for Addressing Trauma, Crises and Grief Through Tele-Mental Health | MHTTC Network

This is the third and final session of the three-part webinar series, Making a Good Connection: Engaging Students and Families in School Tele-Mental Healththat is geared toward providers who are making the transition from in-person to telehealth services. Session content focuses on practical strategies and equity concerns related to engaging children, adolescents, and families using distance technology. 

Using the Lens of Ambiguous Loss to Treat COVID-19 Pandemic Fear and AnxietyGreat Lakes MHTTC

Dr. Pauline Boss explains ambiguous loss, its effects, its differences from ordinary loss and PTSD, and its complicating grief. She presents six culturally inclusive guidelines for treatment and intervention, useful regardless of your discipline. She also addresses self-of-the-therapist issues for these uncertain times.

Other Resources

Webinars and Trainings

Alliance for Young Artists & Writers: Grief and Growth during COVID-19 Workshop

Alliance for Young Artists & Writers: Healing Through Creativity

American Counseling Association: Working With Youth Who Experience Grief and Loss

APA Office of Continuing Education: Crisis Response Planning for Preventing Suicidal Behaviors

APA Office of Continuing Education: Grief in Childhood: Fundamentals of Treatment in Clinical Practice

APA Office of Continuing Education: New Paths for People With Prolonged Grief Disorder

Association for Death Education and Counseling: Grieving the Loss of Living our Lives

Hospice Foundation of America: Complicated Grief in the COVID-19 Era

Hospice Foundation of America: How to Develop and Manage Virtual Grief Support Groups

Hospice Foundation of America: Increased Relevance of Advance Care Planning in the COVID-19 Era

Hospice Foundation of America: Making Funerals Meaningful in the Age of COVID-19

Hospice Foundation of America: Using the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement to Improve Your Practice

National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors: Journey Through Grief and Loss

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Considerations for Collecting and Interpreting Information to Improve Service Delivery During COVID 19

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Distance Education and Displacement: Understanding the Impact on College Students and Young Adults

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Family Night in a Box: Expressive Activities adapted for Bereaved Families during COVID-19

National Alliance for Grieving Children: In Conversation with Dr. David Weaver and Dr. Donna Gaffney: A Ground breaking study on the educational, health, and economic outcomes of parentally bereaved children.

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Planning and Adapting for the Next Way of Grief Service Delivery

National Alliance for Grieving Children: The Interaction of Trauma and Grief in the Age of a Pandemic: The Role of Bereavement Programs in Promoting Child and Family Resilience

National Alliance for Grieving Children: The Leadership Journey: Navigating Organizational Transition and Transformation

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Through the Lenses of Grief: A Conversation about Grieving Children, Teens, and Families in the Emotional Climate of the Coronavirus

National Association of Social Workers: Grief and Mourning During COVID-19

National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement: COVID-19 Pandemic Resources

Portland Institute for Loss and Transition: When Grief Goes Viral: Assessment and Intervention in the Coronavirus Crisis

School Counselors for MTSS: Webinar Series

Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network: Virtual Summit

The Center for Complicated Grief: Promoting Resilience in Bereaved Children and Parents

The Center for Complicated Grief: Public Mental Health and Bereavement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Center for Complicated Grief: Understanding Grief and Adaptation to Loss In The Time of Coronavirus

The Grief Recovery Method: 4-Day Certification Training

The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death: Grief Work for Healthcare Providers

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Heal: Processing Grief through the Written Word

Fact Sheets and Tip Sheets

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT): Bereavement

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT): Complicated Grief

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Grief Leadership During COVID-19

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Notifying Families After a COVID-19 Death

Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope With Grief

National Association of School Psychologists: Addressing Grief

National Association of School Psychologists: When Grief Hits Close to Home

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Mental Health Providers

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Parents and Caregivers

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Pediatric Providers

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief Related to COVID-19

Online Articles

American Counseling Association: Counseling Connoisseur: Death and Bereavement During COVID-19

American Nurse: Grief Management After a Nurse’s Death

American Psychological Association: Grief and COVID-19: Mourning Our Bygone Lives

American Psychological Association: Grieving Life and Loss

American Psychological Association: Grief and COVID-19: Saying Goodbye in the Age of Physical Distancing

COVID Grief Network: Connect

EdCan Network: Teaching and Learning While Grieving: Lifting the curtain on grief to better support educators and students experiencing loss

Eterneva: Missing a Loved One on Thanksgiving: Ways to Remember Them + Cope With Grief

Imagine, A Center for Coping and Loss: Grief Education for Schools

National Funeral Directors Association: Grieving Alone and Together: Responding to the loss of your loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic

Scientific American: Grief in the Time of COVID-19

The Atlantic: All the Things We Have to Mourn Now: Six experts explain how to recognize the many new faces of grief during a pandemic

The Dougy Center: When Death Impacts Your School

The Imaginary Library

Toolkits and Guidelines

Good Grief: Funerals in the Time of a Pandemic: A Toolkit for Children & Families

Intervention in School and Clinic: Coping With Grief: Guidelines and Resources for Assisting Children

The World Health Organization: Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Prolonged Grief Disorder

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is standing by 24/7 to support you during the pandemic & beyond. Toll-free, multilingual, & confidential support services are available to all residents in the U.S. & its territories. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor.

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