Presentation on theme: "Death and Grieving How Children Cope Death is not easy to deal with for anyone. It is always difficult to accept, and requires a grieving process. People."— Presentation transcript:
Death and Grieving How Children Cope Death is not easy to deal with for anyone. It is always difficult to accept, and requires a grieving process. People deal with death in many different ways, at different stages of life. Children though, need the help of the adults around them to process what is happening to their world. Herein are a few facts and some recommendations about how we can help our children with the grieving process.
May react to the absence of a parent or caregiver with increased crying, decreased responsiveness, and changes in eating or sleeping Have no understanding of death Are aware of separation and will grieve the absence of a parent or caregiver Birth- 2 years
3-4 years Are curious about death and believe it is temporary and reversible. Have trouble expressing themselves; will often react to loss through behaviours, such as, aggression, irritability, regression, eg. thumb sucking or bed wetting. Greatly affected by the sadness of surviving family members. Naturally egocentric children believe they are the cause of events around them. Often feel responsible. Worry about who will care for them.
AGES 5-7 Children as young as 5 or 6 see the world in a literal way.Explanations about death should be basic and concrete, eg. The persons body stopped working and the doctors could not fix it. Children at this stage have difficulty with the permanence of death, and will often continue to ask for the person, or when they are going to return. Avoid using euphemisms, eg. Gone away, went to sleep, or even ‘lost’, as this can inadvertently instil fear in a child of going to sleep, or of someone leaving never to return. When children at this stage ask where the person is now, it is not usually a spiritual question, but rather they are processing a sequence of events, and the physical whereabouts is the final piece, eg. cemetery.
Ages 8-12 Children at this stage are beginning to grasp the finality of death. They deal best with death when given accurate, honest, simple and clear explanation. At this age children personify death eg. Boogeyman; skeleton, etc. They often think that praying, wishing or behaving a certain way will help them to keep their family safe from death.
Teenagers 13-18 As they mature into their teens, children begin to understand that death is unavoidable. As their understanding evolves they begin to experience a wider range of Emotions that they do not feel comfortable expressing. Teenagers tend to look more for meaning in the death of someone close to them. Teens are beginning to explore the meaning of life. Teens tend to experience feelings of guilt, particularly when the deceased is a peer. Will sometimes withdraw in favour of sharing their feelings.
How We Can Help Them Cope Children and Adolescents need honest information as well as other types of support. The relationship the child shared with the deceased will be a factor in the length and intensity of a child’s grief. Following, are some ways adults can assist their children : Explain death using real words instead of euphemisms. Share your family’s spiritual beliefs surrounding death. Be affectionate verbally, and physically, and reassure their continued personal safety. Dispel feelings of guilt or responsibility for the death. ensure their understanding of permanence. Use books, and drawing, and role play to help younger children understand and express themselves. Encourage questions, and answer what you can, honestly. Reassure that the pain of their grief will come and go, and it is normal to experience periods of intense grief that are not always predictable. Assure them that it is in no way disloyal, to have fun or feel happy. Encourage age appropriate activities, as social interaction can provide relief. Provide security through the maintenance of regular routines, and being as consistent as possible. Continuity gives children a sense of safety. Children as young as 3 years old understand the concept of saying goodbye, and should be allowed, where possible, some choice in how they say goodbye to a loved one. If your child is having trouble recovering, and you are concerned about their behaviour,seek out professional help.