Children grieve, too.
As adults, we want to protect the children in our family, which is a natural response to the circumstances. However, children, like adults, have feelings which they need to express, but there are differences depending on the age of the child.
In some ways, grief doesn't end, because your memories remain.
No child is too young to notice that an important person is no longer around and it is important to tell all children, in simple language, that the person has died and is not coming back. If children do not understand what has happened, they can become confused and anxious, so not telling the truth can be harmful.
Young children in particular find it difficult to grasp the concept of past and future, and only see the present as being real. They may repeat obvious questions or seem callous, but this is the result of their need to concentrate on the here and now. They may be distressed one minute and want to go and play the next as they continue to explore the world and enjoy it – this is quite natural.
In general, children find it difficult to express their feelings in words, so their feelings often come out through changes in behaviour. However, like adults, every child will respond differently to bereavement depending on age, maturity, temperament, their closeness to the person who has died and how secure and supported they feel.
Don’t hide your grief from the children in your family; seeing you grieve and hearing you talk about the person who has died may help them express their feelings and talk too. Spending extra time with children in the early part of bereavement will help them feel secure, as will keeping their routine as normal as possible and reassuring them that it is okay to have strong feelings.
Talking to them over time, drawing pictures, creating memory boxes, writing stories, making albums about family events and the person who has died all helps the child keep their memories alive and work through their grief.