Peer Deaths: Supporting Students Grieving within the context of Racial Trauma & during COVID-19

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February 15, 2022 | 2:00 p.m. Eastern | 11:00 a.m. Pacific (1.5 hours)
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Presentation Description

“Miss, I’ve loss 7 friends this year”. “Miss, I’ve now loss 5 friends this year”. These are common check in responses I hear when supporting Philadelphia schools specifically, ones serving majority of black and brown male students. Since when has high peer death rate become a common stat and sentiment of our check ins? are my sobering thoughts. My feelings of heartbreak and profound sadness is felt and my behavioral response of tearfulness is experienced. According to our Uplift working definition of grief, being “all the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that happen to us after someone has died”, I grieve as a Clinician, for these young students unnatural, unjustly, and disrupted adolescence. Research indicates that in Philadelphia “as of August 18, 2021, 137 victims under the age of 18 have been injured from gun violence this year. Thirty-two have been homicides”, (Chalkbeat, 2021). Our organization is responding to this unfortunate increase and how its rippling through several public schools we serve. Leaving students grieving while readjusting to in person learning. Concurrently our students are experiencing racial trauma in both covert and overt ways, which Mental Health of America, defines as “mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism and hate crimes”. Our BIPOC students have witnessed this through inequitable health disparities during COVID-19 pandemic, visibility of race based microaggressions and inequitable resources in the 2020-2021 school year. Given our Philadelphia Public School District demographic being majority Black and Hispanic/Latino, these accumulated losses directly impact our methodology in supporting their grief. As my qualitative data in the first paragraph displays, we create a safe trauma informed virtual environment in two practical ways. One, we respect students’ self-determination by providing a poll with the most preferred option of how they’ll like to spend grief group, i.e., games/activities, discussion only, both or a different way. The answer is immediately implemented. Secondly, we acknowledge losses by death along with other often unrecognized loss also known as disenfranchised grief or grief unrecognized and penalized by society, known Dr. Tashel Bordere’s suffocated grief. A psycho educational approach in the beginning of group addresses this and it’s revisited in the check in with the option to say, “I pass”. It’s been observed that this ritual opens the group dynamics for vulnerable narrative storytelling, which is a common therapeutic African centered approach, and for genuine peer-based support. In conclusion, we’ve learned that providing trauma informed and culturally relevant peer support-based is an effective therapeutic approach for BIPOC students grieving. This is also congruent to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) “Back to School After COVID-19: Supporting Students and Staff Mental Health: Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative Toolkit, seven suggestions for schools to consider as they return in the fall". Based on our quantitative data during the pandemic, an average of 48% increase in students coping within six weeks and an average of 92% perceived group to be helpful at a 60% or higher level: suggesting best practices for supporting students.


At the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  1. To explore through a multi-cultural and trauma informed lens, peer death as a common type of loss BIPOC students is grieving during COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. To identify the societal factors impacting the student’s grief responses.
  3. To define the subtle and harmful effects of racism and how it impacts student’s attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.

About the Presenter


Lamya Broussard is a dedicated Certified Trauma Informed Senior Clinician who has been in the field for the past 15 years. She’s honored to have worked with and to continue providing therapeutic healing support to marginalized communities including youth in foster care, Black & Brown Immigrants, LGBTQIA+ homeless youth, BIPOC front line advocates against racial injustice, juvenile justice involved youth and students impacted by compounded grief & loss and complex trauma.
She’s earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tuskegee University and her two Masters in Social Services and Law & Social Policy from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research with a specialization in Child & Family Wellbeing. She finds joy in Social Services as her life purpose in helping others navigate their healing process.
As a Senior Clinician providing School & Community Services at Uplift Center for Grieving Children, Lamya co facilitated weekly grief groups to Justice Involved Youth in Urban Areas, facilitates weekly in person & virtual school grief groups. She's also co-developed and implemented Uplift's curriculum and activities for Justice Involved Youth.
Additionally, Lamya has enjoyed representing Uplift on podcasts, zoom lives, symposiums, and local radio interviews for more than 300+ attendees of the community, mental health field, grief and loss community and school partners both locally and internationally.
Lamy’s past presentations include: August 2019- "Implementation of Inclusivity Practices with LGBTQIA+ Youth" at the 3rd Annual Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference. June 2021-NACG virtual symposium on "Impact of Grief & Trauma on Juvenile Justice Involved Youth". July 2021-4th Annual Philly Trauma Conference: Supporting Adaptation, Transformation, and Health in the Wake of Trauma, on "Impact of Grief and Trauma on Youth High Exposure to Violence". August 2021-a 30-minute intro video training for Board of Education of Fayette County Kentucky's school district staff, mental health workers, juvenile justice workers, teachers, and counselors on "Inclusive Trauma Informed and Therapeutic Approaches for Justice Involved Youth". September 2021-feature on The Dougy Center's Grief Outload Podcast for my topic: "Grief Is Not the Great Equalizer-Supporting Queer, Trans and Justice Involved Youth". It was reported that the episode was downloaded over 1,500 times in less than 24 hours.
Lamya continues to provide grief and trauma healing advocacy to Uplift children, families, and students. She's been a member of Alliance of Black Social Workers since 2010 and is the Founder/Director of Coming Out More Equipped Consulting Services (C.O.M.E.) which engages with other community-based organizations.

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