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Helping Children Cope with Ambiguous Loss and Ongoing Uncertainty

Childhood trauma consultant and children's book author, Beth Tyson, discusses what Ambiguous Loss is, why it's important right now, and what we can do to help children cope with the uncertainty created by the pandemic.

Beth shares her personal stories with grief and loss as she raises her daughter and sprinkles in relatable stories from her time as a trauma therapist inside the child welfare system. Beth uses "real talk" and explains child psychology in a way that everyone can relate to.

"The pandemic created many losses that our culture often doesn't recognize, such as the loss of safety, routines, and rituals," says Tyson. "When children suffer alone with these hard feelings, it can affect their functioning at home and in school."

In this webinar, you will learn how ongoing loss without a resolution can lead to C-PTSD and other mental health challenges, but you will also learn how to mitigate the impact of these losses and prevent additional trauma.

There is hope in all situations, even when it doesn't seem possible. According to research by Harvard University, children only need one consistent, loving adult to overcome significant adversity.

"Compassionate relationships are the antidote to childhood trauma and loss." - Beth Tyson.

Parents and teachers often overlook ambiguous loss as the cause of many behavioral challenges for children. In this video, you will learn the symptoms to look for and how to help children who are suffering from ambiguous loss.

Examples of ambiguous loss for children:

  • Foster care/kinship care/adoption

  • Parental Incarceration

  • Mother's pregnancy loss or infant death

  • Immigration

  • Missing people

  • Runaway pets

  • Parents who are preoccupied with drugs, screens, gambling, work, etc.

  • Loss of rituals, celebrations, and death ceremonies due to Covid-19

  • Moving to a new home/community

  • Losing a beloved toy

As you can see, some of these events happen every day, while others are more infrequent experiences. In addition, children will respond to these losses differently depending on their genetic makeup, history of trauma, current support system, and many other factors.

When children long for a loved one who is physically on this earth but psychologically absent, or who is psychologically present but physically absent, this can create emotional turmoil that leads to symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress and other mental health challenges. It is essential to normalize the experience of unresolved grief because every human experiences it from time to time. Ambiguous loss is not a mental illness or diagnosis. It is a natural reaction to extremely abnormal events.

To learn more, watch this video about how to spot the symptoms of ambiguous loss and what you can do to support a child through this complicated experience.

*If you find this information useful and would like to learn more about improving the emotional wellbeing of children and families, please join Beth's private Facebook group, Emotiminds, or subscribe to her newsletter on children's mental health and compassionate parenting.


Beth Tyson, MA, is a childhood trauma consultant, best-selling author, and an advocate for children in the child welfare system. Her mission is to share trauma-informed practices to build community awareness & break the cycle of trauma.

Her tender-hearted children's book, A Grandfamily for Sullivan, is a resource to teach children how to cope with ambiguous loss & provide age-appropriate language for adults to talk with children about family separation due to safety issues, like addiction.

Most importantly, Beth is the mom of a spirited little girl with a huge heart for hugs, just like her mama.

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Donating=Advocating for Children

I've spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars writing my blog (ad free) and advocating for children's mental health. I also donate my children's book, A Grandfamily to Sullivan, to grandfamilies and non-profit organizations without receiving funding. In order to continue to do this work I need your support. Please consider donating to me to keep my mission alive! No amount is too small. I am so grateful for all of you who inspire me and encourage me to keep fighting for children's mental health every day! 

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