Children and Grief
Grief in Children
Even the adults are unable to cope up with the grief then think how children will respond to it. Many children get confused and frightened during the grief time. You may think that shielding children from pain is the best way of avoiding grief. You are wrong. Grief is an unavoidable part of our life. Instead of providing shield against grief for your children you make them to understand the ways to cope up with grief as grief is a natural occurrence and will affect children now or later. You should convince your children that their feelings and emotions have less importance. If your children are grown up enough, you can go up to extent of convincing them the concept of death. You should motivate your child to express his emotions and ask questions whenever he has doubt.
Following illustration will provide you the basics about convincing your children about grief and death.
Infants: Feeling of separation and loss are the major aspects of development of death awareness in infants as they do not recognize the death. Children separated from mother may have the characteristics like quiet, sluggish, sleep less, less active and do not responding to expressions like smile etc. They may even develop some physical changes such as weight loss.
Children in age group of 2 to 3 years: Children of this group are not capable of understanding the death. They assume that the deceased is in a deep sleep. You must convince them that their beloved has died and will not come back.
Children in age group of 4 to 6 Years: Children of this age group have little understanding about death. However, they do not know how it is associated with their continued existence. They may assume that death in contagious in nature and begin to fear that they themselves or their loved ones will die. You should comfort them and tell them that their fear is unlikely. As a result of grief children of this age group may develop disorders like loss of control over bowel and bladder. Grief may even lead to sleeplessness if the loss felt by children, due to death of loved one, is major in their life. You must discuss with your children regarding death concept and motivate them to express their concerns and emotions.
Children in age group of 7 to 9 Years: Children belonging to this age group are aware of the death. The have real grasp on death and tend to show curiosity about death and consequences of death on their future life. Though children in this age group do not think about their own death, the may develop fear about the death of their lived ones. Usually, children in this group develop aggression, behavior problems and school problems. They can become clingy or may even withdraw. Generally such behavioral changes do not occur immediately after death but are noticed at later stage.
Adolescents: The response expressed by adolescents to the death is like that of expressed by an adult. However, children in their adolescence tend to reluctant to cope up with their fears and emotions and show denial tendency. Though these children do not display any fear or emotion, internally they are frightened and emotional.
It is important on your part to make yourself available for comforting the child if he has experienced a loss, which may be major loss of his life. On many occasions it is observed that adults struck themselves in bereavement and are not concerned about how their child will cope up with the grief. Counseling plays a greater role in helping the child in difficult time.