Coping With Loss At Camp

During stressful times, be sure to drink enough fluids and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and foods with protein.

Remind campers that people heal and recover from grief. They, too, will make it through this painful time.

Remember that grief takes time. It is not an instant process, but a process of healing. There is no “right” or “healthy” timetable for grieving. Campers have a right to grieve, even if itseems others have “gotten over it.” Some may want to jump back into camp activities; others not yet.

Have fun. Laugh. Laughter is healing. During a time of loss, people sometimes feel guilty about laughing, but laughter can help with grieving.

Camp is particularly well suited to help people cope and connect in healthy ways. Be spiritual, in whatever ways fit your system of beliefs.

Knowing when more help is needed

Campers who are vulnerable in other ways may find the death of a fellow camper particularly disturbing. Here are some warning signs that may indicate the emergence of a more complicated problem, for which you may wish to seek additional support for a camper:

•Radical change in personality, especially becoming irritable, anxious, or apathetic

•Radical change in behavior, especially inability to concentrate or perform routine tasks

•Chronic (more than a few days) indifference to camp friends and activities

•Risk-taking behaviors, such as alcohol or other drug use, fighting or sexual experimentation

•Denying pain while at the same time acting overly strong or mature

•Chronic (more than a few days) change in eating habits, either loss of appetite or significant overeating

•Feelings of hopelessness, e.g., “It will never get better. I will always feel this way.”

•Change in sleep pattern, either hypersomnia (over-sleeping), insomnia, or early-morning wakening

•Chronic (more than a few nights) nightmares

•Agitation, hyperactivity or chronic restlessness

•Deterioration of relationships with family and/or friends

•Expressions of worthlessness, e.g., “I don’t matter. There’s nothing important or worthwhile about me.”

•Suicidal impulses, ideation, statements, gestures or plans

•Expressions of overwhelming guilt, shame or self-hatred

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