How Children Grieve
Loss and Death
Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her book Children and Death states:"either knowingly or unconsciously, we pass our acquired fears along to our children and are not aware unit it is too late that those cause indescribable damage and pain.
" Do children actually grieve? As a caring adult, have you taught them how to realize the emotions in a safe and appropriate way? Parents wonder if the grief their child feels can ever be the same as grief experienced by adults, and thus, there is little need to dwell on unhappiness.
Differences In Grief Between Adults and Children
While there are many similarities, childhood's understanding of the finality of death is based on many fictional representations on television and video games. Unless they have personally experienced the loss of a pet or relative, it may not seem real to them.
Their range of experiences limit their understanding of the finality of death. In younger children, they may not be able to cognitively understand the intense emotions of the adults around them. It is confusing to see those who are in charge of your world fall apart emotionally.
Ages and Stages of Development
As they grow and develop in understanding and empathy, they may reflect back to their perception of the incident and recognize that they did not have all the information, and may begin to ask probing questions. Children are more capable of thinking of pleasant things and pigeon holing (putting it aside in their mind) grief.
Because some emotions are so hard to handle, children may focus on things that do not hurt so badly in order to cope. A few years ago, I was writing a book on Resilient Children and when I asked fifth graders what they did to bounce back from a disappointment or loss. The number one answer was animals, either live or stuffed animals. The majority said the could change their thoughts by focusing on something that they remembered as being a happy time. When harsh reality is overwhelming, then to bounce back a child may revert to a time that was less stressful.
Be Consistent In Answers To Children About Death
Children need to hear the same information over and over again until it begins to sink in. Use proper words like death, dying and gone forever from our sight. The most important thing is to ask them what they don't understand and then be honest in your answers.
You Want The Best For Your Child
Thank you for being part of this community of kind, thoughtful adults who want to teach all children to respect and understand others.