Chapter 4: Supporting children
How children grieve
When I told them their grandad had died, after crying for a few minutes, they ran off to play. I was so shocked.
In your family, each child’s response may also depend on their own unique relationship with their grandparent.
When children grieve, they do this very differently than adults. Below are some of the key characteristics specific to children’s grief. Click on each of the phrases below to read more.
Children are more likely than adults to express grief through actions and behaviours. The younger the child, the more difficult it will be for them to use words, and they are much more likely to express their feelings through play. You may also notice that a child regresses for a time, showing behaviours of a younger age.
Children often move back and forth between talking about a loss and playing, sometimes very quickly. This is a normal way that children cope. When children do talk, it is not likely to be a big “tell-all,” and their questions may not come when you expect them.
In general, and regardless of age, most children will take their cues from the adults around them when responding to a death. More specifically, the reactions that you may see will depend on the child’s age and stage of development, their personality, and their relationship with the grandparent who died. Remember that, like adults, each child has their own way of grieving. In addition, children grieve as they mature, which means that over time you may see their grief resurface.