Bereavement in Babies and Preschool Children

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Grief resources are among the cremation services offered in Dayton, OH after the death of a loved one and their cremation. One area of important focus is grieving children. Although how a child – from a baby all the way up to a teenager that is about to become a young adult – will grieve is unique to each child, there are some common ways that children grieve and that the adults in their lives can respond to by giving them care, support, and comfort.

All children tend to grieve in bursts, rather than continually as most adults do. Most children will seek solace in normal routines and activities as a way to deal with the loss of a loved one, because it reminds them that not everything in their lives has changed forever. However, it is not unusual, even if a child doesn’t seem to be grieving, for intense grief to resurface later, long after the death of a loved one has taken place.

Many factors go into how children will grieve. There is no right or wrong amount of grief. Some children seem to emotionally shut down and won’t talk about the death of a loved one nor display much outward grief. Other children may be more emotional and talkative about the death of a loved one and how the loss feels.

Even though babies and toddlers don’t have the ability yet to understand death, they can definitely experience feelings of separation and loss – especially if they and the loved one who died were close – and they can sense tension and stress in the adults who are grieving the loss. Their reactions may include: looking for the loved one who has died; crying more; being irritable; being clingy; being anxious; and, being exceptionally quiet and withdrawn.

Adults can help babies and toddlers by trying to maintain their normal routines and activities as much as possible. Hold them more and cuddle them more, and make sure they have their favorite toy or blanket nearby at all times. Be calm and gentle with them as you’re talking to them and holding them to reassure them that everything will be okay for them.

Preschool children who experience the loss of a loved one will have a difficult time processing the death as permanent. Because this is an age where the mind can imagine the impossible, preschool children can either believe the loved one who died will suddenly be alive again or that they were responsible for the loved one dying. This second belief can be a heavy burden of guilt that gets carried well into adulthood, if there is no one who can comfort and soothe the preschooler and reassure them.

Preschoolers are very aware of separation and they can often get fearful when things that are familiar suddenly change. Common reactions include many of those shown by babies, except that preschool children may dream about the deceased loved one, display changes in eating habits, start wetting the bed, and exhibit regressive behavior such as crawling or wanting a bottle.

Adults can help preschool children by acknowledging their sadness, telling them they’re safe, staying physically close to them as much as possible, holding and cuddling them frequently, and encouraging them to play, which can be therapeutic in processing grief.

For more information about grief resources at cremation services in Dayton, OH, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can call us today at (937) 278-4287.

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