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Future Teachers at Duquesne Involved in Children’s Grief Awareness Day

Life can deal children all sorts of losses. Most obvious is death, said Dr. Patricia Sheahan, but the loss could range from divorce to deployment.

Sheahan, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University teaching a course on Social Justice in Educational Settings, and her sophomore students, encourage the community to be aware of the impact grief may have on children and strongly urge all to learn more about how children deal with grief at home, in school and in their communities.

During the week of Nov. 17, Sheahan's class will staff a table at Duquesne's Gumberg Library's fourth-floor main entrance that will highlight book recommendations for children and adults dealing with the loss of a loved one as well as information about the Highmark Caring Place. On Wednesday, Nov. 19, and Thursday, Nov. 20, alumnus Chuck Esposito, a licensed professional counselor in private practice who specializes in grief, will staff the table to speak informally to anyone interested in his role supporting children who are grieving.

The Office of Greek Life will host a table and displays in the Union, and will distribute blue lollipops, bracelets and ribbons to remind all on campus to "Get Your Blue On" for Thursday, Nov. 20, which is nationally recognized as Children's Grief Awareness Day.

Grief may make children lethargic or distracted or produce outbursts of anger or tears throughout the day. "We are working with future teachers to help them gain a deep understanding that grief may not be only due to death; it could be the loss of a parent in deployment, the loss of a parent to illness and depression, losses associated with poverty, a parent's unemployment, living in a food desert or a barrage of violence in their own lives," Sheahan said.

"As a course in social justice, this is in tune with what is happening in society and the schools," Sheahan added. "It's the best possible community collaboration because more and more children are expressing grief in our classrooms, and teachers don't always have the training or background to know how to work with them and their families. My students are aware of how children are more able to express their feelings through the arts, to give children the opportunity for someone to hear their voices, to unleash and release feelings."

Sheahan, an installation artist, has encouraged her students to draw blue butterflies on Academic Walk and to help the campus get its blue on.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.