Supporting bereaved children & their families in Kent

Holding On Letting Go

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How children grieve

Like adults, children need to grieve in a variety of ways but how a child copes with the death of someone close to them depends on many factors including:

  • Their age, stage of development and understanding of death
  • Their relationship with the person who has died
  • The circumstances of the death
  • How the whole family has reacted and been affected by the death
  • The family culture and beliefs
  • The most usual responses are:
  • Asking many questions in order to understand their loss
  • Searching for the person who has died
  • Crying/expressing anxiety or being extra “clingy” with other family members
  • Lack of concentration
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Regression to an earlier age, acting younger
  • Role–playing the dead person and taking on their role, eg. taking on a caring role if the parent has died
  • Denying the death – usually to protect the adults
  • Anger and guilt
  • Sadness/depression
  • Isolating themselves from friends
  • Finding it easier to talk to their peers
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Physical symptoms eg. tummy ache/headache
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Phobias about doctors and hospitals
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Questioning their own identity
  • School work may be affected by under-achieving or over-working
  • Self-harm, although this is more common with teenagers rather than young children
  • Some may adopt bullying behaviour as a protest against their painful emotions

It is normal for children to experience any or none of these reactions. However if you are concerned about your child in any way please contact us (link to contact us)