Grief is a natural and healthy response to losing someone important in a person’s life. But bereavement can be difficult, especially for children. The death of a beloved family member or friend can be traumatic and life-changing for them.
If you’re the parent of a child who has experienced this kind of loss, it’s important to know how to support him through his grief. One thing you can do is to let your child get bereavement counselling.
How Do Children Respond to Death
Children’s responses to death are similar to adults’ responses, but each child will go through it at a different rate. Some children may exhibit signs of grief as soon as they find out about the death, while others may not show any signs for several weeks after hearing the news. There are also those who may be more resilient than others and able to move through the grieving process relatively quickly.
Kids also often experience the same feelings as adults after losing a loved one: sadness, anger, guilt, and loneliness. However, they may express these feelings differently than adults.
They may feel sad, cry, and even throw tantrums. They may also have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating on schoolwork.
Clearly, children respond to death in a variety of ways. One thing’s for sure, though – they often feel confused and alone. They are also more likely to feel afraid in the face of death. They may be scared that the deceased person will come back to life or that something terrible will happen if they don’t cry enough for them now.
To add, children may worry about being alone without their loved ones around anymore – especially if there were conflicts beforehand – and this can also cause them emotional distress.
Furthermore, children may feel helpless after a loved one dies. They may feel scared that they will be next. They may be angry at the person who died or at God. They may even resent their parents for not preventing death.
Also, some children may feel guilt or blame for losing someone close to them. They may believe that the death would not have occurred if they had only done something differently. This can make them feel incredibly anxious and guilty about their actions in the past and future.
How Can Bereavement Affect a Child’s Development?
Bereavement has been shown to have an impact on children’s development. Some kids who have experienced the death of someone close to them develop more quickly than other children their age. They are also more likely to display mature behaviour and emotional intelligence later in life.
However, there are some negative effects associated with childhood bereavement as well. It can negatively affect their academic performance and social skills development as they struggle with the loss of someone close to them.
There are also some psychological effects associated with childhood bereavement that can have a lasting impact on adulthood.
Children who experience the death of someone close to them are at higher risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. This is especially the case if they are still young when their parent or loved one passed away, but it can also occur in older children. Moreover, they may exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. Others may also resort to self-harm.
Ultimately, bereavement is a devastating experience for children, especially if it is sudden and unexpected. It can have a lasting impact on their physical, emotional, and social well-being if they cannot cope with it. So, it’s crucial that you know how to recognise the signs that your child is not dealing with his grief well so that you can provide the support they need during this difficult time.
How Do You Help a Grieving Child?
Let Them Know They Don’t Have to Hide Their Feelings
It’s important to let your child know it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or even guilty. It is also vital to tell them that it is okay to talk about their feelings and ask questions.
You can support your child by providing stability in other aspects of their life, such as schoolwork and playtime activities (where possible). This will help remove some of the focus on the loss while adjusting.
Give Them Space to Express Their Feelings
You must not force any kind of conversation if it feels too uncomfortable for your child.
Be Open and Honest
Children are more likely to open up if they feel safe and comfortable. You need to let them know that you will listen to them and accept their feelings, even if they do not seem logical or rational at the time of their grief. It’s also vital for you as a parent to demonstrate acceptance of your child’s emotions so that he feels validated and connected with you during this difficult time.
Setting Up Routines
You need to set up routines after a loved one’s death while still allowing your child to talk about their feelings. Routines provide a sense of safety and predictability for children.
They may not be the same as before the death, but they can help your child feel secure and in control when grieving. For example, make sure that there are always toys or books available when it’s time for bedtime reading—even if you’ve never had this ritual before.
Routines can also help children find comfort in knowing that each day will continue on its usual path, even though things are different now because of the loss of a loved one.
Being Patient and Understanding
There is no timetable for bereavement, so it’s essential to be patient and understanding. The grieving process will take as long as it takes and will be unique for each child.
Some children may experience a gradual decline in their mood, while others may have sudden bursts of emotions. Some children are able to express themselves better than others. With these, you need to speak with your child on their level and ensure they understand that you are there for them no matter what happens during this difficult time.
Letting the Child Talk to a Counsellor
Children need help understanding what they are going through. They need to talk freely about what they think and feel. An experienced grief counsellor in Dublin can help your child in this process.
Can Bereavement Counselling Help Children?
Yes, bereavement counselling can help children deal with grief and loss. It can reduce their grief and create a healthy way for children to mourn.
Grief counselling can help children process their emotions and better understand the loss of a loved one. It is an integral part of their healing process.
How Exactly Can Bereavement Counselling Help Children Cope with Grief?
Bereavement counselling helps children cope with grief by providing them with an opportunity to talk about what they are feeling and learn how to deal with those emotions. It also teaches them how to express their feelings in a healthy way, which is important since many children tend to bottle up their emotions instead of talking about them.
Counselling also provides answers and clarity to children. The counsellor will work with the child to help them understand what is happening within the family and why it is happening. She will answer your child’s questions about death or the dying process.
Another important aspect of bereavement counselling is helping children understand that their loved one is still with them in spirit, even though they have died. This can be very comforting for children who feel like a part of their family has been taken away from them.
Also, bereavement counselling allows children to express themselves in a safe environment where they will not be judged or criticised for their feelings. This helps reduce any feelings of isolation associated with grief and loss, as well as increase communication between parents and children so that everyone feels heard during this difficult time.
Counselling sessions can be held weekly or monthly depending on how much support each child needs during this challenging time. Apart from talking, drawing pictures, and writing letters to the deceased person are some activities counsellors use to help bereaved children process their loss.
When Should My Child See a Bereavement Counsellor?
Some signs of a child struggling to come out of mourning include symptoms such as stomach aches, nightmares, and anger. At this point, it may be time to seek professional help, like talking to a grief counsellor who can guide him through this process.
It is also imperative that your child gets bereavement counselling if he seems depressed. In case you didn’t know, children as young as three may show signs of depression during bereavement.
Signs that a child may be struggling with grief and depression include:
- withdrawn and irritable behaviour
- crying spells
- refusing to eat and drink
- sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or frequent nightmares
- loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- agitation or lethargy
Aside from those mentioned above, teens who are having a difficult time coping with their grief may also exhibit the following symptoms:
- loss of interest in schoolwork and social interaction with others
- weight loss or gain without reason,
- feelings of hopelessness about the future
- thoughts about suicide
- increased drug use and/or alcohol abuse
Parents like you should watch out for these symptoms because they could lead to worse issues, such as substance abuse problems if left untreated.
Where to Get Bereavement Counselling Services for Children in Ireland
If you’re a parent whose child has lost someone, you may wonder where to find bereavement counselling for children in Ireland. There are many counselling clinics in Dublin that can help. All you have to do is to make a quick search online or ask people you know for recommendations.
Just make sure, though, that you pick a qualified bereavement counsellor – one who is trained and experienced in providing grief counselling for children. So, check their credentials and reputation. If possible, take time to talk to them so you’ll understand their process and know what to expect.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where your child has lost someone they love, it’s important to remember that each child will experience grief differently. The best thing you can do is be open and honest with them about their feelings while being patient as they work through their emotions. Also, remember that professional help is available.
Bereavement counselling is a great way to help children deal with their feelings of loss, which can often be overwhelming. Providing them with the tools and understanding they need to cope with grief helps them move forward in the healing process.
Let your child get the professional support he needs to cope with the loss of a loved one. Call us today at 015240708 or click here to schedule a bereavement counselling session for your child.