Skip to Content

News

What Bereaved Parents Awareness Month Can Mean to You and Others
July 6, 2022

By Melissa Campbell, DSW, LCSW, APHSW-C

Tell us a bit about your journey to social work.
I was attracted to the field of medical social work and have had the privilege of working as a medical social worker. It has been my honor to help people struggling with grief and loss while I worked in various settings: hospitals, long-term care facilities, and palliative care. My journey has now led me to offer therapy to individuals through my private practice, Campbell Counseling, LLC in Red Bank, NJ. I am so proud to be a social worker and thrilled I can put my doctorate  of social work degree from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to meaningful use.

What is the significance of this month for you?
Bereaved Parents Awareness Month offers an opportunity to shine a light on the challenges and strengths of parents who have lost a child throughout their lifespan. The loss of a child is unimaginable. Not everyone needs professional support while working through a death, but some benefit greatly when a therapist trained in griefwork walks alongside them through the pain.

More important than what Bereaved Parents Awareness Month means to me is understanding what it means to a parent. When I posed this question to a client whose son had died two years ago she responded: “Bereaved Parents Awareness Month provides an opportunity to increase the national conversation around loss and death. Parents who have lost children face a lifelong challenge of learning to live fully without the person they brought into this life who they loved and nurtured. Having a social community that is not afraid to engage with a bereaved parent could serve as an additional support and help facilitate the joy we all seek while honoring our son or daughter.”

What are some ways people can commemorate Bereaved Parents Awareness Month?
Thoughtful ways of commemorating Bereaved Parents Awareness Month can be as simple and as complicated as reaching out to someone you know who has experienced a loss of a child at any age or stage of life. I assure you parents who have gone through this loss are likely thinking about it every day, so you do not  have to worry about reminding them of a sad time. Technology allows us to set a reminder so we can recognize either the anniversary of a death or birthday. The message can sound something like “My heart is with you today. I am here to listen if you want to remember out loud or spend a quiet moment together with someone who also misses ________.”

As providers we have an important role to play as a vessel to hold the parent’s death story or to be an audience to cherished memories. This is delicate work, but it can be so very rewarding.

What can the social work profession or social workers do to bring awareness to bereavement, grief, and loss beyond this month?

The greatest gift we can offer our clients is to continue to educate ourselves and then share that knowledge with others. Amazing work is being done by two social workers in our Rutgers School of Social Work community: Judith McCoyd, Ph.D. and Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, DSW, LCSW are producing research, individually and together, on the topics of thanatology, grief, and loss. They continue to contribute beautifully to the body of knowledge on the above-mentioned topics. Consider reviewing these bodies of work:

Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan (springerpub.com)
By Judith L. M. McCoyd, PhD, LCSW, QCSW
Jeanne Koller, PhD, LCSW
Carolyn Ambler Walter, PhD, LCSW

The Double RAINBOW Approach
By Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, DSW, LCSW & Judith McCoyd, Ph.D.
As a professional social worker, do not discount your voice on a topic if you find you have a passion for it. Some find it very difficult to sit with someone experiencing the pain of bereavement. If you find you are able to be of comfort, seek out opportunities to support others while they are working through how to move forward with their grief.

This story was created in partnership with Rutgers School of Social Work's Inclusion, Intersectionality, Diversity, Equity, and Advancement (IIDEA) Committee in support of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Back to top