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The Challenges For Children Facing a Bereavement

Most of us will experience grief at some point in our lives, and while some of us are aware of how difficult it can be, most of us can only fathom how much more confusing it must be for a child in addition to all the painful emotions they will experience.


No one knows what happens to a loved one after they pass away, and that can often be one of the scariest things. Losing a loved one means your child might be wondering why they can’t see that person anymore and what’s happened to them. Will they ever be able to see them again? And why is it that when family members say they’re going to visit that loved one, they really mean a place full of dirt where their name is on a stone? Bereavement can be really confusing for a child, and all the questions that go through their head can be extremely overwhelming.


Losing a loved one could mean your child now becomes fearful of losing others or, even worse, that it might happen to them. This could trigger other thoughts and potentially even develop into anxiety or a phobia. However, these are worst-case scenarios and more likely to occur if a child isn’t supported, consoled and given time to process their grief. If the child raises this subject or asks questions, it’s critical to strike a balance between allowing them to witness others’ vulnerability in the circumstance but to ensure that they have a safe, calm and inviting environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and asking questions. If not, they can decide to keep it to themselves out of fear of upsetting anyone or perhaps start to believe that other family members don’t really care or aren’t as impacted as they are.


When a child experiences grief, it’s possible that they won’t even be able to comprehend their own emotions or thoughts. Do I feel upset about losing that person? Do I feel angry? Do I feel both? But is it acceptable to be angry with Grandad for dying? Or maybe there’s absolutely nothing going on through their mind, and they have no idea what even to think or feel. Under such circumstances, they could begin to mirror the behaviour of others around them, which could give them an idea of how they “should” feel. However, all this can confuse them which can lead to changed behaviour as they attempt to make sense of it all and figure out how to communicate the emotions they can recognise, this does mean that some of those ways aren’t exactly the healthiest. They may exhibit aggressive behaviours to express their uncertainty or rage at the circumstance, grow more dependent on their parent or guardian for comfort, and require continual reassurance. The age of the child may affect this. 

An incredibly useful guide on behaviours you might be able to recognise or watch out for depending on your child’s age can be found on the Marie Curie website

Every child is unique, so managing this circumstance can be challenging, particularly if you are also mourning.

These are only a few of the difficulties your child will encounter, and they will undoubtedly have a cascading effect on other aspects of their life and their responsibilities, including their relationships, their outlook on the world, their focus in class, and other aspects of their daily lives. Your child can be supported, encouraged to talk openly, and provided with professional help in therapy to help them make sense of their thoughts and feelings, process them, and create appropriate coping skills. All of this can help them find serenity and give them tools they can utilise moving forward, not only during their grief but in general.

In addition to having a significant effect on your child, grief can strain your relationship with them as well as their relationships with all the other members of the household. In order to help your child feel bonded with you and the family following a loss, family therapy can also be helpful and additionally equip you with tools to support your child.

To find out which of our offices is closest to you, you can browse our website or give us a call at 0115 648 7912.

Our family and child therapists are listed under “Our Counsellors,” which you can also browse through. But don’t worry. All you really need to do is get in touch with us, and our team will help you navigate all of that.

Written by Eva Domingos, a counsellor at My Solution Well-being. 



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By MSWB Team on 13/02/2024 in Wellbeing

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