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Children’s Grief Responses con’t


When the truth of their mother’s cancer or death is too much to process, some children simply tell themselves it can’t be true and block things out by behaving as if everything is normal. Denial is a natural grief response, but if it continues, it should be addressed by a professional.

Difficulty Concentrating

Grief can make it harder to stay focused on a task, which can impact school or performances. Children may be confused, absentminded and forgetful. It’s important for parents to communicate with teachers to ensure the child is getting the support they need at school. Don’t wait for problems to arise – share information proactively with teachers, principals and counselors. Expectations may need to be adjusted for children to continue to be successful in school.

Disrupted Sleep

Children may have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep and have nightmares or intense dreams. Keeping routines consistent can help.

Fear and Anxiety

“Who will take care of me?” can be a major concern for children. It is not uncommon that they may fear that the surviving parent will get sick or die. Some children can be anxious when they’re separated from their parent or siblings and may try very hard to control the people around them. Consistently reassure them there will always be someone to take care of them. Give children opportunities to make choices that give them a sense of empowerment and control.