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How do Children Grieve?

  1. How do children grieve?
    Like adults, each child’s reaction to death will be unique and may be experienced on many different levels.

Signs or symptoms of grief can include, but are not limited to:
• Acting-out behavior
• Tiredness, lack of energy
• Changes in grades
• Sleep disturbance
• Increased “accidents”
• Headaches, stomach aches or skin rashes
• Difficulty with concentrating or focusing
• Regressive behavior, such as thumb sucking, bed wetting or clinging.
• Unlike adults, children have a difficult time sustaining strong feelings. Therefore, mood swings and outbursts of emotion are common.

2. Should children attend funerals?
Yes. Attending the funeral allows the child to be a part of the family at a time when they need love and attention the most. If the child is leery of the funeral, perhaps you can arrange a private moment before or after the service for the child to say goodbye. Or ask your funeral director if their facility has a playroom where that child could stay until the service is complete.

The important thing is that the child is with friends and family and not isolated from the situation.

3. Do children need an advance explanation of what to expect at a funeral? Learning what to expect at the funeral is very reassuring for children. Be honest and clear when explaining the details.

Remember, children take things very literally so try not to use euphemisms in your explanations. For young children, simple statements are sufficient. For example, explanations like a funeral is a way to say “goodbye” or a casket is a nice box that holds the body, will help them understand.

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