Grief in children

A child who loses a loved one has to go through a grieving process just like anyone else. The grieving process is different for everyone. But with a child it is a little more different.


A child’s grieving process is no more and no less than an adult’s grieving process, it is just different.

How do you notice that?

This is not always easy to notice, because children in mourning do something that makes it invisible: children in mourning spare their parents. A child finds the grieving process of the parent(s) so bad that the child does not allow himself or herself to add anything to it. As a result, the child may not be able to grieve properly because he/she does not give himself/herself the space to do so. And then it can seem like it doesn’t matter much to them.
The grief then expresses itself in other ways:

  • the child does not express itself
  • the child is unexpectedly aggressive
  • the child has concentration problems

For those who guide a grieving child, it is important to create a situation in which the child allows himself or herself to grieve.


This means that if you are grieving yourself and you have children that you also have to look after, this does not go so well. You have your own sadness, which makes it more difficult to care for your children, but your children who see your sadness will spare you.

It is therefore advisable in this situation that there is another adult in whom the child has confidence and who, according to the child, is not pathetic. The other adult can then take care of the child and the child can grieve unhindered. A pet is also a very suitable confidant for a child. And of course inform the school, although that does not always have the desired effect.

Daily rhythm

Small children need a daily rhythm and that need does not decrease in mourning, it actually becomes stronger. This can be very difficult if your own wake/sleep rhythm is disturbed by your grieving process, but this is really necessary for the child.
Try to continue to offer structure.


Of course they will also ask all kinds of questions, so it is important not to make excuses because the truth would be too bad. They notice that and they are very imaginative, so they might come up with something that is even worse than the truth.
Better translate it for them. For small children in visual language, for older children in fairy tales, for example.


And of course you can always contact Stichting Achter de Regenboog.