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To understand the grief process in children and adolescents it is important to consider the following:

  • Children grieve in “windows of time” - as their sense of “safety” permits.

  • Children are physical in their grief.

  • Children understand death and grieve according to their particular developmental (cognitive, emotional, and spiritual) phase.

  • Children revisit losses over their lifespan.

  • Children who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling often feel isolated and different.

  • Grief often interrupts and/or stalls the normal age-appropriate developmental tasks.

  • Children are quick to blame themselves for the death of a loved one and may “secretly” carry this guilt for long periods of time.

  • Grieving children often experience their world as “out of control.

  • Children grieve as a part of a family system and take their cues about how to grieve from the adults who are their primary caregivers.

Copyright 2012 The Austin Center for Grief & Loss
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