The loss of a loved one shakes a child’s sense of security. If a child’s parent dies, a child loses an important person and her life will change permanently.
Even the youngest children mourn although they do not understand the meaning of death. Young children sense the feeling of pining in their loved ones and miss being held and comforted just like the older ones, too. A child in mourning needs support from adults to help her overcome difficult emotions.
- Comfort and close contact are important, in addition to an opportunity to ask about the issues she has on her mind.
- A parent or another familiar person has to tell the child about death truthfully in age-appropriate terms.
- A small child thinks in very concrete terms thus when you talk about death with them, use the proper names of things. A child may ask many death-related questions. The questions should be taken seriously and answered if you can.
- There is no need to be afraid of showing grief or crying in front of a child. Honesty and openness in the way you feel show the child and adolescent that crying is acceptable.
- If a child is excluded from the scene, her grief is ignored. Facing a child’s grief while mourning is very difficult, but shared grief is easier to live with than hidden or denied grief.
- In the middle of sorrow and grief a child needs an adult to be there for her, to hug her and keep her in their arms. A child needs time for feeling sad, crying and looking back.
- If an accident was involved in the death of a loved one or it was otherwise sudden and unexpected or happened in the presence of the child, she may need professional support outside her family circle. Various support systems for children and adults exist providing help under the circumstances.
- Normal routines help healing. A child should get back to her normal day care or school routine as quickly as possible.