The death of a loved one is always difficult. When the death results from a war or a disaster, it can be even more troubling given the sudden and potentially violent nature of the event. For children, the loss of a parent, sibling, relative or friend can affect their sense of security. Helping children cope with their loss is crucial in enabling them to resume their lives more fully at home and school.
Responses to Loss
Children deal with death in many different ways, and not necessarily in the same manner as adults. Here are some common ways children might respond to a death:
Tips for Helping Children and Adolescents
Children express their grief in a variety of ways and may even appear to be unaffected by the death. While pre-schoolers have difficulty understanding that death is not temporary, children between the ages of five and nine begin to experience grief more like adults.
Don’t push children to talk about their feelings. Children, like adults, need time to grieve and be upset. Let them know you are ready to listen, and provide reassurance and validation of their feelings when they express them.
Here are some issues to consider when helping a child overcome loss:
The Mental Health America has several resources available to help you and others cope with tragic events, loss and other topics. To obtain this information, call our toll-free line 800-969-6642.