How can Ecomaps be beneficial when working with grieving families?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a visual representation of resources outside the home that a family can access as well as the inter-connections of the family with this outside world, an ecomap can provide much information about family dynamics and valuable or conflicting relations of the family with certain institutions or locales. Therefore, with arrows, an ecomap indicates resources that are beneficial to the family as well as those that may present conflicts or challenges. The depiction of the energy that flows from the family to a particular resource may indicate whether a family member is motivated, mildly involved, or "drained."

This knowledge that is derived from an ecomap about other family members is certainly helpful whenever there is a death, for those close to the grieving member(s) can call upon the others who were a source of comfort and support. In addition, personnel from an institution or resource that was valuable to the family may be able to offer some type of support with respect to the care of those who have suffered the loss, or the handling of particulars such as wills, etc. For, with an ecomap having been created, a grieving person is afforded resources and contacts about which he/she would not have previously been aware. Perhaps, for example, a faith-based institution has been tapped with this map, or mutual aid groups or informal organizations; such groups could easily offer much-needed solace for one who grieves. Certainly, the construction of an ecomap provides a tangible layout of all the resources, family members who are a secure base, and others who are available in times of need, thus easing the anxiety of those who suffer loss.

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