How Very Small Children Grieve
Access to grief resources is one of the cremation services offered in Phoenix, AZ after the a loved one dies and is cremated. One area of important focus for adults, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers, is grieving children.
How children (no matter what their ages) grieve is no different than it is in adults. Each child will grieve in their own unique way. However, there are some similarities in the ways that children grieve. Understanding these can help the adults in their lives know how to give them the care, support, and comfort that they need.
All children tend to grieve incrementally, rather than continually, the way many adults do. The majority of children will try to console themselves by immersing themselves in normal routines and activities.
This is common when children experience the loss of someone they love because it reminds them that not everything in their lives has permanently change. However, it is not uncommon, even if a child doesn’t appear to be grieving, for intense grief to resurface later in their lives, long after the death of a loved one has happened.
There are a lot of factors that will determine how children will grieve. Just as with adult, though, it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong amount of grief.
Some children may appear to shut down completely. They refuse to talk about the death of their loved one and they seldom, if ever, express a lot of grief outwardly.
Other children might be more emotional and talkative about the death of a loved one. They will tend to talk a lot as they process how the loss feels to them and what it means to them.
Although babies and toddlers can’t understand the concept of death, they can experience very strong feelings of separation and loss. This is especially true if they were very close to the loved one who died.
Additionally, babies and toddlers can sense tension and stress in the adults around them who are grieving the loss.
With babies and toddlers, reactions may include: looking for the deceased loved one; crying a lot more; being more irritable; being exceptionally clingy; being anxious all the time; and, being abnormally quiet and withdrawn.
The adults around babies and toddlers can help them in many ways. One way is to try, as much as is possible, to maintain their regular routines and activities.
Another way to help babies and toddlers who are grieving is to hold them more and cuddle them more, and make sure they have their favorite toy or blanket close by at all times. Use a very calm and gentle voice when you’re talking to and holding them to help reassure them that everything is okay for them.
Preschool children who experience the death of a loved one will have a difficult time processing the death as permanent. Because this is an age where imagination is strongest, preschool children may be convinced that their loved love will suddenly live again or that they caused their loved one to die. This second belief can be a heavy burden of guilt that persists into adulthood, if no one comforts, soothes, and reassures the preschooler.
Preschoolers are acutely aware of separation. They may be afraid because suddenly what was familiar has changed. Common reactions are similar to those in babies and toddlers, except that preschool children may often dream about their loved one, may experience changes in eating habits, may begin wetting the bed, and may revert to younger behaviors like wanting a bottle or crawling.
One of the best ways to help preschoolers is to acknowledge their sadness. The adults in their lives should make sure they know they’re safe and demonstrate that by a lot of physical closeness and affection.