Children need to feel that it is okay to talk about death and grief.  If a child does not wan to talk about his/her grief, adults need to respect that.  Adults should let the grieving child know that they are available to listen and help and that any feelings the child feel secure in expressing emotions and also reassures the child that he or she is loved and will be cared for.  Dr. Alan Wolfelt feels that if grieving children are ignored, they may suffer more from the sense of isolation that from the loss itself.

Messages relayed to a grieving child such as "Don't cry.  You need to be strong" or "You're the man in the family now" or "Be a good girl" your mommy needs your help now more than ever" suppresses grief expression in children and set up unfair expectations of them.  Adults should gently intervenne if they observe a child taking on the roles and tasks of the bereaved. Grieving children should not be allowed to take on the role of the "confidante" or partner of one parent if the other has died.

It is important that adults not hide their own feelings of grief from a bereaved child.  If they do, they teach the child that feelings are not OK--that they are something to be ashamed of, to be kept to oneself.  It is also true that grieving adults should not grieve profusely and at length in front of a child since it might frighten and worry the child.

Religion is an important source of strength for many adults and children during the grief process. Children take things literrally, so explainations such as "It is God's will" or Bonnie is happy in heaven" could be frightening or confusing rather than comforting, particulary if religion has not played a role in the child's life.  It is important that children be allowed to express their religious and spirtual concerns.

During the grieving period, children are often most comforted by familiar surroundings and routines, and separation may increase their fears about abandonment.  Grieving children who are sad or depressed require a lot of support and attention so that they can express their sad feelings and work through them.

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