Grief in Children
This article will explore grief in children, what to expect, and how to help your child through their grieving process.
Loss of a Loved One
Losing a loved one is difficult at any age, but when a child loses a loved one, the weight of the world seems to bear down on their small shoulders. Grief in children can manifest in many ways: anger, sadness, withdrawal, and even physical symptoms. It is our responsibility as adults to help children through the grieving process, to give them the support they need to get through this tough time.
When a parent dies, their children often feel like they are responsible. They may feel like they should have been able to protect their parent or that they did something wrong. The children will often ask if their parent had a good life, and if he or she went to heaven. If it is their belief that their loved one is OK and in a better place, they may feel better about themselves.
Grief in Children: How to Help Them Through the Process
Each child is different and will have different reactions as they process their loss. The first step in helping children through their grief is to help them understand that they are not alone. The loss of their loved one affects everyone in the family and everyone is affected differently.
When a parent dies, the children will often ask if their parent had a good life, and if he or she went to heaven. If it is their belief that their loved one is OK and in a better place, they may feel better about themselves.
The next step is to help children know that their loved one did not die in vain. Their loved one made a positive impact in the lives of others, and they will continue to do so. Your support, love, and encouragement are important. Try to be available as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to invite your child to share their feelings with you.
Grief in Children: What to Expect
The loss of a loved one is a difficult time for any child, but for young children in particular, it can be overwhelming. Young children are often not able to express their feelings, so grief in children may show up as either tantrums or withdrawal.
There are a few things that you can expect when a child is grieving:
Anger: Children are not very good at controlling their emotions. They may be angry at the world or at themselves for their loss.
Withdrawal: Children may become very quiet and withdrawn. They may also have trouble sleeping.
Sadness: Sadness is a normal part of the grieving process and children may experience this at different times.
Tantrums: Children may experience tantrums as a result of their grief.
Physical Symptoms: Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and low energy may occur for children as a result of their grief.
As a child is grieving, it is important that you provide them with a familiar and safe environment. Try to be available for your child as much as possible during this time.
We Can Help
If you feel your child is struggling with grief or you would like to discuss how to best help your child cope with their grief, we are here to help. We can work with your child using supportive counseling and Art Therapy.
Art Therapy is very helpful to children and adults who are grieving. Lauren Fallat, our Professional Counselor and Art Therapist, is experienced in helping children and adults cope with grief. Please give us a call or send an email to discuss how we may help (908-857-4422 or email@example.com).
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For more about Lauren Fallat, LPC ATR-BC: About Us
For more information about Grief: Mayo Clinic on Grief