TTAC Webinar: The Loss and Grief of COVID-19: Real Challenges and Practical Suggestions
TTAC was pleased to host a webinar titled The Loss and Grief of COVID-19: Real Challenges and Practical Suggestions presented by Joy D. Osofsky, Ph.D., Gerard Costa, Ph.D., IMHM-C, & Gilbert M. Foley, & Ed.D., IMH-E (IV-C).
This discussion focused on the nature of grief surrounding COVID-19 recognizing that grief has no timeline and every pattern of grieving is individual. The presentation provided real and practical suggestions and advice related to how to cope as a family and how to talk to, listen to and help children adjust and be supported. A combination of topic-specific presentations by each presenter and discussion among the presenters was used to present the material in ways that are practical and helpful. Some of the topics discussed were: the developmentally based expectable reactions of young children to the losses of COVID, how to talk to children about illness and death, the importance of structure, schedules and rituals in a time of change, the normalcy of anxiety with uncertainty, the importance of co-regulation in helping children manage emotions and behavior, the self-healing and regulatory power of play, how to cope as a parent, and the critical importance of culture and ethnic traditions in mourning.
Life as we know it has been drastically altered by COVID-19 with worry about whether the world will ever be the same and anxiety about illness and even death cast over daily life. The losses in our daily lives are many including losing the presumption of health to the expectancies of daily life including food security for some. Grief is a normal process through which we all come to cope with and heal from losses in our lives. . The work of grief includes: 1) expressing and regulating strong emotions; 2) shifting focus from the real to the remembered; and 3) internalizing and holding the good and positives that were part of lost relationships and experiences. Unfortunately, some of our friends and family may die from COVID-19 and both adults and children will have to process the grief as described above. For most, the grief related to COVID-19 will likely be temporary and more elusive related to missing what we had and did, much of which may return even in a way that is somewhat different and we will adjust to the “new normal”. While most people will not have to face the finality of death, but rather their familiar lives being disrupted and tinged with fear and anxiety.. However, for those who must face the absolute grief that comes with loss of a loved one, it is important to provide more support through rituals and other means even if it must be provided virtually at this time.
About the Presenters:
Joy D. Osofsky, Ph.D. is a clinical and developmental psychologist, Paul J. Ramsay Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Barbara Lemann Professor of Child Welfare at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where she is also Director of the Harris Infant Mental Health Center. Dr. Osofsky has published widely related to children and trauma including: Trauma in the Lives of Children, Two Volumes (Praeger, 2018),Treating Infants and Young Children Impacted by Trauma: Interventions that Promote Healthy Development (American Psychological Association, 2017), Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children (Guilford, 2011), Young Children and Trauma: Interventions and Treatment (Guilford, 2004),Children in a Violent Society (Guilford, 1997), and Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 2018). She is past president of the World Association for Infant Mental Health and of Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families and is currently the Clinical Consultant and on the Leadership team for Zero to Three for the Safe Babies Court Team Program. She played a leadership role in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and was Clinical Director for Child and Adolescent Initiatives for Louisiana Spirit following Hurricane Katrina.
She currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator for the NCTSN Center, Terrorism, Critical Incidents, and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience. In 2007, Dr. Osofsky received the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence in trauma work from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and in 2010 and she was honored with a Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association for her work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2014, she was recognized with the Reginald Lourie Award for leadership in infant mental health and outstanding contributions to the health and welfare of children and families.
Gerard Costa, Ph.D., IMHM-C, is the founding director (2011- ) of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental (CAECMH) at Montclair State University (NJ). He was also founding director and led the YSC Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health (2000-2011). He is a Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education and Human Services and is a member of the faculty of the Infant and Early Childhood Development (IECD) Ph.D. program at Fielding University (formerly the ICDL Graduate School). He serves as a trustee and President of the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning, founded by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder, and served as a consultant to ZERO TO THREE for the past 20 years. He is one of the first 16 “Expert Faculty” selected by ZERO TO THREE in the new DC: 0-5 (2016) Classification system. He sits on several state and non-profit boards and was appointed by two New Jersey Governors to serve on the New Jersey Council for Young Children, where he headed the Infancy and Early Childhood Mental Health committee. He received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University. He was one of the first 16 recipients of the DIR certificate by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder, and is a trained faculty member in the Brazelton Touchpoints Model. He holds a “Self-Reg” Certificate from the MEHRIT Center in Canada, led by Dr. Stuart Shanker and the CAECMH is the first licensed “Self-Reg” Center in the United States. He holds an endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Clinical Mentor, through the New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health and Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. He led a 4-year Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health systems development project in partnership with Child Development Services of Wyoming and the Wyoming Developmental Disabilities Division and is the principal author of a 15 module Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health training curriculum. He led a two yearlong training and consultation project with 25 Infant Mental Health mentors with South Dakota Voices for Children, and he led a strategic planning initiative with the Missouri Association for Infant Mental Health-Early Childhood.
Since 2018 he has served at the Coordinator of the Northeast Regional Terrorism and Disaster Coalition, under the leadership of Drs. Joy and Howard Osofsky as part of the Terrorism and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience (TDC4), a center in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). at Louisiana State University. He is past president and am Emeritus member of the New Jersey Association for Infant Metal Health. He has presented keynotes, workshops and trainings at hundreds of events and programs. Dr. Costa has been honored with numerous awards including the Christian Kjeldsen Champion for Children Award by the NJ Child Care Advisory Council, the Lucille Weistuch Early Childhood Special Education Award, by the New Jersey Division for Early Childhood (NJDEC), and the Golden Bell Leadership Award, by the New Jersey Mental Health Association. He is a New Jersey licensed psychologist, has a consulting and training practice, and is the author of articles and book chapters on autism and infant mental health. He has presented on these topics in 27 states and 10 countries.
Gilbert M. Foley, Ed.D., IMH-E serves as Consulting Clinical Psychologist at the New York Center for Child Development (NYCCD) in New York City and Clinical C0- Director of the New York City Early Childhood Mental Health Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC): a collaboration between the NYC Office of Mental Health, NYCCD and McSilver Institute, New York University. He is Director Emeritus of the graduate program in Infant Mental Health and Developmental Practice at the Adelphi University, a US Department of Education awarded Personnel Preparation Program. He is a senior faculty member of Profectum (DIR) Academy and is Endorsed as an Infant Mental Health/ Clinical Mentor, Level IV. Dr. Foley serves on the editorial review board of the Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and had served on the editorial review boards of the Journals of Developmental Processes and Infant and Early Childhood Psychology. He is a retired tenured faculty member of Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology (Yeshiva University) where he taught for 20 years in the Department of School-Clinical Child Psychology and coordinated the infancy-early childhood track. As Senior Clinical Supervisor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital Center, he was an innovator in the technique of reflective supervision. While serving as the Chief Psychologist in the Pediatric Department of the Medical College of Pennsylvania (Drexel University College of Medicine), Dr. Foley trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and also completed a fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center with the late, Sally Provence M. D.
For eleven years Dr. Foley served as the Director and Principle Investigator of the Family Centered Resource Project, a Federally Funded model/demonstration, outreach and technical assistance agency providing training to the infant/early childhood intervention community nationally. Dr. Foley‘s clinical and teaching career has been devoted in large part to working with infants and young children with special needs and their families. He is the author of several books and numerous articles. His most current book with Dr. Jane Hochman, “Mental Health in Early Intervention” is published by Brookes. He is currently co-authoring “Sensory Integration and Regulation in Infants and Toddlers”, to be published by National Zero to Three. The Loss-Grief Model developed by Dr. Foley, is the official approach of the Colorado Department of Education, parent program. He lectures and consults widely, nationally and internationally, having recently returned from South Africa, China and Israel. He was an invited presenter at the First International Conference on Preschool Education in China sponsored by UNICEF and Nanjing University.
Dr. Foley is a founding board member of the Pennsylvania and New York State Associations of Infant Mental Health and served as Co-President of the New York Zero to Three Network. His contributions to the field have been acknowledged by: a Certificate of Recognition from the Connecticut Birth to Six Planning Committee, a Letter of Recognition from PARC (Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens), A Certificate of Commendation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, a Certificate of Recognition from National Zero to Three, a Faculty Teaching Recognition from the International Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL) and made an Honorary Citizen of Springfield Missouri for contributions to young children with disabilities and their families. He served on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Child Development Committee, the Governor’s Task Force on the family and has been included in Who’s Who in the East and Who’s Who Worldwide.