Grief is not a one size fits all experience, every individual will cope differently. For children, processing death can be extremely difficult as they learn to understand what death means. A child’s understanding will depend on many things such as their age, family background and stage of development but not all children develop at the same rate.
There are, however, a few common signs of grief that many young people experience. Understanding these can help you support your child as they grieve.
Sadness and clinginess
It’s completely normal for children to feel low soon after the death of someone close. This may be shown through crying, having strong feelings over seemingly small things and wanting to be near adults constantly. You may notice that children start to act younger than their age and demand more attention than normal – this is usually a way to gain closeness and affection. It’s important to speak openly with the child and encourage them to talk about their feelings so you can offer reassurance.
Anger and rebellion
At age seven most children will understand what death means and that it’s permanent. Adolescents, in particular, will think about the long-term impact on their lives and this can lead to drastic changes in behaviour such as anger. You may notice changes at school such as bad behaviour which is often a sign that they are struggling to manage their strong emotions. Teens and even young children can benefit from talking therapy with a grief counsellor as this will help process emotions and find appropriate coping mechanisms.
Some children won’t react at all on the surface, bottling up their emotions instead of letting them out. Older children may start acting like the adult but show no feelings of sadness, however, this often manifests in different ways and the feelings may become overwhelming. Creating a scrapbook or memory box will allow the child to grieve privately and take a few minutes of reflection whenever they like.
Here at T & I Stockman, based in Torbay, we offer professional funeral planning services so you can arrange the perfect send-off for your loved one. From high-quality caskets to choosing the right floral tributes, we can help. Get in touch today and find out more.