The experiences of children who attend bereavement camp and the implications for after care: a phenomenological




Gonzalez, Clarissa Lauren

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Child bereavement is a difficult topic to explore and study because of stigmas in discussing death, and because of restrictions in doing research with young children. Thus, research in childhood bereavement is limited. This study focused on children who attended a bereavement camp after the traumatic loss of a loved one. The purpose was to understand the participants' grief experiences. This research study used phenomenological inquiry and analysis methodology. Five female participants were interviewed for this dissertation. In addition, participants created a sandtray world to convey their experiences at bereavement camp. Results yielded three themes from participant interviews: camp activities (subthemes: child-directed play and structured activities), resilience (subtheme: sense of relief and interpersonal connections), and identity of feelings. The essence of participant's experiences as revealed through verbal interviews was posttraumatic growth. In addition, results yielded one more theme from participant sandtrays: play (subtheme: memorializing and movie time). The essence of participant's experiences as revealed through their sandtray worlds was gaining a sense of support. Results of this study extend bereavement research to include the experiences of children. Further, implications for professional counselors, counselor educators, and bereavement camps are emphasized.


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bereavement camp, childhood traumatic grief, sandtray