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Recognizing Signs of Grief in Children

No one grieves the same way. The grief process is not the same for everyone and may look quite different in children as opposed to adults. It is important to remember that just because a child is not outwardly displaying the signs you may associate with grief, they may still be grieving. Children may display grief symptoms intermittently; these symptoms may even seem to come and go as if in waves of emotion. Periods of intense sadness may be immediately followed by outward displays of happiness. Common grief symptoms in children include:

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Change in sleeping pattern (sleeping more or less than usual)

  • Increase or decrease in activity level

  • Withdrawing from peers

  • Hyper-vigilance and feeling unsafe

  • Dreams about the deceased loved one

  • Nightmares or inability to sleep (often caused child being fearful of what might happen next)

  • Decrease in communication

  • Irritability or outbursts

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Overreacting to seemingly minor events

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