Grief & Loss Counselling
What does Grief and Loss look like in Children?
Like adults, children and adolescents experience grief when they lose someone or something they had a close connection with. However, unlike adults, children often don’t have the verbal expressive ability to communicate their emotions. Due to this they may communicate their emotions through behaviour. Children can experience grief for a range of losses including:
- Death of a family member
- Death of a family pet
- Serious illness of a family member
- Parental separation/divorce
- Moving house/relocation
What are some Indicators my Child may need Grief Counselling?
Sometimes children show their distress by behaving in ways you would expect from a younger child. For example, they might start wetting the bed at night, sucking their thumb, or using baby talk. Children’s grief reactions commonly include crying, being anxious, having bad dreams and clinging to parents or carers. Children may also show their distress by being angry, irritable, unsettled, or losing motivation for school and other activities.
Common reactions to death in school-aged children may include difficulty concentrating in school, problems sleeping, and recurrent thoughts about the death. School-aged children may report physical reactions like stomach-aches and headaches, which can be triggered by being in places that remind them of the person who died.
Teens will likely feel a wide range of emotions surrounding the death, including sadness, anger, guilt, and helplessness. In response, some teens may withdraw, while other teens may engage in risky activities (eg, self-injury, drug or alcohol use). Recognise that these actions are your teen’s attempt to regain control and cope with his emotions.
When a loved one dies it can be difficult to know how to support your child when you may also be going through a grieving process. Be honest with children and encourage questions. This can be hard because you may not have all of the answers. But it’s important to create an atmosphere of comfort and open communication and send the message that there’s no one right or wrong way to feel.
Typically grief resolves by itself over time. It is important to remember there is no time-frame on grief. However, sometimes children and adolescents experience difficulty adjusting and experience intense periods of distress following a loss. This can be a time where they may require additional support.
If you feel that your child is struggling with grief and loss and may require additional support please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 07 3341 4619 to discuss how we can support your child and family.