Grief and Traumatic Grief in Children in the Context of Mass Trauma


Children who have had someone close die as a result of a mass trauma event such as war, armed conflict, acts of terror, political violence, torture, mass accidents, and natural disasters are at risk for biopsychosocial problems. Research on how to classify when grief becomes complicated or traumatic in children is scarce, and while functioning level may provide a good indication, assessing functioning may be difficult in mass trauma environments where routines and structure are often lacking. There are promising trauma- and grief-focused interventions for children post-mass trauma, which are mostly provided in school settings. However, more advanced multi-method interventions are needed that address grief and trauma in the context of the child’s overall mental health, parent/caregiver role in assisting the child, family system issues, ways to provide safe caring environments amidst chaos and change, and interventions that take into account local consumer perspectives, including the voices of children.

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Conflict of Interest

Pål Kristensen and Kari Dyregrov declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Atle Dyregrov is a Children and War Foundation board member.

Alison Salloum has received grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and royalties from Taylor and Francis and Centering Corporation.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Atle Dyregrov.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry

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Dyregrov, A., Salloum, A., Kristensen, P. et al. Grief and Traumatic Grief in Children in the Context of Mass Trauma. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 48 (2015).

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  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Grief
  • Traumatic grief
  • Mass trauma