When Children Grieve
The way children express their grief
may be different from adults. It can be spasmodic, so at times they
seem 'back to their old selves', while at other times they may be
extremely withdrawn or angry.
Children often try to hide their grief from their immediate
family to protect them from the pain of seeing them cry.
Adults need to provide clear and honest answers to children's
questions. Be factual and avoid euphemisms like 'passed away' and
'sleeping', because they're meaningless. Worse still, expressions
like 'taken away from us' can be frightening for a child.
It is appropriate at the time of death to tell children what is
going to happen next. Talk about the funeral arrangements, and let
them know people are likely to call and some will be upset, even
crying. Explain this is normal. Tears are one way of expressing
grief and it's okay to cry.
Keep them involved. They may want to see the body, and this is
normal - children should be given the choice. It may help some
children to write a note to place in the casket, or leave a flower
Talk to children at their level, in words they understand. For
example, 'The doctors and nurses couldn't make Grandad's body work
any more so he died'. Perhaps some reassurance such as 'Being dead
Let them come to the funeral - virtually all children who can
understand what is happening are able to cope with a funeral and
benefit from it. Children need an outlet for their emotions just as
Get help with the difficult questions. If children need answers
to important questions that you cannot provide, professional advice
from a grief counsellor will help your child to cope. It is
important they understand what is happening, and that they don't
try to suppress their grief.