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Losing a parent is devastating, no matter how old you are. However, when young children experience the death of their mother, the emotional consequences can be far-reaching. Even if they are too young to understand death, they feel loss. Children also grieve when facing the loss of a once-healthy mom. When she has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment, they intuitively know something is wrong. Many also experience anticipatory grief, an in-between but very real state of having to process the idea that their parent may or will die.

If children aren’t given the tools to cope with these feelings, they can be overwhelmed. Helping children deal with their grief allows them to process the experience and grow into emotionally healthy adults. This section looks at how children experience loss and death, outlines the ways in which they grieve, and gives you tools and strategies you need to talk with children, recognize any problems and help them through the process.