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Grief Support

Children & Grief

Death is a natural event. Developmental Psychologists for children recommend that even the very young, should not be shielded from death. Children generally can recognize death, especially that of a loved one, as a uniquely personal event. Their natural curiosity will often lead to meaningful questions that help develop a healthy process of grieving and personal development.

Using an age-appropriate manner, it is best to talk to the child simply and truthfully about what they see and experience, You may want to start by asking questions to determine what the child already knows about the situation. This understanding will allow you to find the words to best help them process their feeling of loss. For instance, you might find it appropriate to say, “Grandma’s heart was tired and stopped working, so this is why she died.”

It is important to avoid giving answers that may confuse or frighten the child, such as “Grandma went to sleep and is not going to wake up” or “God took Grandma to be with the angels.” While these phrases are meant to comfort and soothe, the child may interpret them in a far more literal sense. I child can take an abstract answer such as these and develop anxieties such as a fear of going to sleep.

Allow the child to ask questions, but do not pressure them if they do not respond. A younger child may ask questions such as “Where is Grandma now?” or “Is my kitty in heaven?” Older children may comprehend the finality of death more fully, and ask more complex questions that are related to issues of faith, the meaning of life, etc.

For any age group, stick with truthful, simple brief answers will best help a child grieve appropriately. 

How do you explain the death of a loved one to a child?

The age and emotional development of a child will influence the way they experience grief.

Ages 2-7

Up to 7 years of age, children see death mainly as a separation event. They may experience a feeling of abandonment or fear. It’s not uncommon to not want to be alone, or even sleep alone at night, Going back to school can trigger new feelings after the loss of a loved one. It’s best to talk and allow these emotions to surface and be discussed in a comfortable and controlled environment. Because children are often not skilled at verbally expressing their feelings, they may “act out” through behavior such as temper tantrums, refusing to obey adults, or creating an imaginary life, accompanied by role-playing. Other behaviors, usually manifested by children between the ages of 2 and 5, may include eating, sleeping, toileting, or bed-wetting problems. Very young children under the age of 2 may suddenly refuse to talk or become more irritable in general.

Ages 7-12

Children in this age group have begun to understand death as a permanent event. They may regard death as a more personal threat to their safety, develop a fear of dying or resort to “preventive” behaviors such as aligning themselves with someone they think can protect them. Some may focus on being “brave” or being “good” while others may withdraw socially and/or emotionally from others. Symptoms may include problems concentrating on schoolwork, trouble following directions, and difficulty in performing daily tasks.

Teens

While teenagers understand and perceive death in closely the same way as adults, they may express their grief differently. Teens can react in more dramatic ways, or adopt reckless behaviors in an attempt to “defy” death. Reckless driving, smoking, drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs, or having unprotected sex may all be forms of “acting out” their anxieties and feelings of grief.

Thoughts of suicide will sometimes surface in a teen that is having trouble processing his or her loss. Warning signs of suicide in children and teens can include a preoccupation with death, having thoughts or openly talking about suicide, or giving away belongings. Parents of teens who have lost a loved one should be aware of any changes in their child’s behavior and should seek professional counseling immediately. If you are not sure where to turn.

Serenicare offers assistance for families and children suffering from Grief. We recommend calling a local suicide hotline for immediate care, However, Serenicare can help with connecting your family with the longer-term during normal business hours, Monday – Sunday. 

Miranda Brimley

October 20, 2020

I cannot say enough good things about SereniCare and Francis. They came highly recommended from many hospice nurses that I know and I am so glad I made the decision to go with them.

Francis made it clear that I was his priority and that he was happy to do whatever services and I wanted and did not ever try to push an additional service. He knows what he is doing and makes you feel comfortable.

In this hard time having the support of the funeral home and director was exactly what I needed and I plan on using them when the need ever arises again. Thank you!

Vickie Sikridji

July 24, 2018

Kent Smith, owner of Sernicare is an amazing person to work with during such a difficult time as preparing for and the death of a loved one. I lost my precious Mother Carma J. Jensen on 6/24/2018... Kent's calm, patient and kind presence was a blessing to me. He went out of his way to help me and offer assistance, I am extremely grateful for all that he did and for the professional manner in which everything was handled. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

James Whited

May 11, 2017

Everything was handled with dignity and according to our wishes. We honestly felt like we were working with a trusted family friend. Thank you for everything you did for us.

Sue B. ogden,UT

February 13, 2016

My hospice nurse spoke highly of you. I am so grateful for the dignity and compassionate care you provided for me and our entire family and friends. Everything was perfect. Many thanks to Francis!

John Rindy

December 27, 2015

I am totally pleased with every aspect of your service for my wife Nancy. Our entire family feels the same way.
Thanks for everything,
John Rindy

Joyce A.

October 20, 2020

"We appreciate the services you gave to us during this time of sorrow in our family. You helped to make her funeral a treasured memory of her."

Joyce A.

October 20, 2020

"We appreciate the services you gave to us during this time of sorrow in our family. You helped to make her funeral a treasured memory of her."