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Grief is a term used to describe a wide range of emotional and physical reactions that arise when someone is living in anticipation of or has experienced the loss of something or someone significant.

Grief feelings may include:

  • anxiety

  • sadness

  • shock

  • anger

  • worry

  • helplessness

  • guilt

Physical reactions to grief may include:

  • stomach aches

  • loss of appetite

  • sleeplessness

  • headaches

  • fatigue

  • lack of concentration

Social, emotional, and behavioral changes in children may include:


  • Playing with friends less.

  • Yelling at others more.

  • Talking about the person that has died.

  • Clinging more to parents.

  • Blaming themselves for the death.

  • Experiencing nightmares.

  • Displaying attention seeking behavior.

  • Hurting themselves.

  • Having exaggerated responses to events.

  • Longing to see their loved one.

Some ways to support someone who is grieving are:

  • Giving them an opportunity to express their feelings.

  • Validating their feelings.

  • Reassuring them that their feelings are normal.

  • Giving honest and (age appropriate) explanations.

  • Sharing memories, stories and photos of the person who died.

  • Reminding them that it won’t always feel this raw or be this hard.

  • Reassuring them of those in their world who will continue to care for them (even if they are grieving too).

  • Reassuring them they are not alone.

Copyright 2012 The Austin Center for Grief & Loss

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