Helping Children Understand Loss

By: George Darte
Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Losing a family member is a saddening experience for adults, and the death of a loved one can also shake a child's sense of security. Children, like adults, require time to grieve the loss of a loved one. While adults may grieve in similar ways, children understand loss in their own way.

Children under the age of five tend to view death as something that will pass, whereas those aged five to nine experience grief more like adults. George Darte Funeral Chapel has compiled a list of suggestions for parents, teachers, and others who can help a child cope with death.

Signs Of Grieving In Children & Adolescents

The following are some symptoms of grief that you should look out for to help children understand loss:

  • Unhappiness
  • Strong feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, anger, and even suicidal tendencies
  • Emotions of rage, denial, shock, and bewilderment
  • Depression that lasts a long time and causes one to lose interest in ordinary things
  • Constant anxiety, hopelessness, inability to eat, and fear of being abandoned
  • Isolation from social ties
  • A substantial decline in academic performance or absence from school
  • Having an unusual preoccupation with death, such as excessively mimicking or questioning the deceased, expressing a desire to "join the dead," or creating games based on death.
  • Putting on a childlike act for an extended time
  • Inability to focus or increased agitation
  • The shame or guilt of knowing you did nothing to stop someone from dying
  • Continual aches and pains in various body parts

Helping Children Understand Loss And Cope With It

Loss is a difficult concept for children to understand, and it can be even more challenging for them to cope with the feelings it can evoke. Here are a few tips to help children understand loss:

  • Use Age-Appropriate Language: When speaking to children about loss, it's important to use language they can understand. Explain the concept of death in a straightforward and honest manner, avoiding euphemisms or ambiguity.
  • Validate Their Feelings: Allow children to express their feelings, including sadness, anger, confusion, and fear. Acknowledge and validate these emotions, and let them know that it's okay to feel this way.
  • Create Rituals: Help children create and participate in ceremonies, such as lighting a candle, planting a tree, or creating a memorial, to commemorate the person who has passed away.
  • Maintain Routines: Keeping routines as normal as possible can help provide a sense of stability and security for children during a time of loss.
  • Have Them Seek Support: Encourage children to seek support from trusted adults, such as teachers, friends, or family members, as well as from counseling or therapy services.

It's important to remember that every child will process loss differently. And it's important to keep in mind that they may need additional time, patience, and support.

Other Things To Focus On

It's possible that your child will become more affectionate, watchful, and possessive of you, but there's no need to worry about it.

  • Remember to reassure your child that there are some people who get sick but recover from their illness.
  • Assure the child that you are in good health and make sure they know it.
  • Ensure the child knows how much their family and friends care about them.
  • Assist children in doing things that calm their nerves and increase their sensitivity, as they may find it too challenging to deal with the loss of a loved one by talking about it or dwelling on it.
  • Don't neglect yourself, and surround yourself with positive people.

Your child is watching you closely. When they see that you are okay, they become more comfortable. This is yet another instance in which parents demonstrate their love for their children by prioritizing their own health and well-being.

Contact Us For Customized Funeral Services

We provide a range of services, including funerals, cremation, and preplanning, each one customized to your needs. We have an open-door policy and are here 24/7 to assist with the services you require.

If you want more information about how children understand loss, speak with George Darte Funeral Home’s funeral director at 905-937-4444. You can use this Contact Us form to send us queries via email. One of our team members will call you soon to answer your questions and provide information about our funeral services. 

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