There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding children and grief. It is important to address these and provide accurate information to better understand and support grieving children. Here are some common myths about children and grief.
Myth: children are too young to understand grief
Reality: Children, even very young ones, are capable of experiencing grief. They may not understand it in the same way as adults, but they can still feel a sense of loss and sadness when someone they love dies or when they experience other forms of loss.
Myth: Children should be shielded from grief and protected from the pain
Reality: It’s natural for adults to want to protect children from pain, but shielding them completely can be detrimental. Children need age-appropriate explanations and support to help them understand and navigate their grief. Open and honest communication is crucial.
Myth: Children should “move on” or “get over it” quickly
Reality: Grief is a process that takes time, and there is no set timeline for how long it should last. Children may grieve intermittently and may revisit their feelings of loss at different stages of development. It’s important to give them the space and support they need to grieve in their own way and time.
Myth: Children always express their grief through tears and sadness
Reality: while sadness and tears are common expressions of grief, children may also exhibit their grief in other ways. They might show changes in behaviour, have difficulty concentrating, experience anger or irritability, or even engage in play that reflects their feelings of loss. Every child’s response to grief can be unique.
Myth: Grief will have a long-lasting negative impact on children
Reality: while grief can be challenging for children, most are resilient and can cope with proper support. Children can learn valuable lessons about life, empathy, and emotional resilience through the experience of grief. However, it’s important to provide them with a supportive environment and resources to help them process their emotions.
Myth: Children should be kept away from funerals or memorial services
Reality: It’s essential to give children the choice to attend funerals or memorial services if they express a desire to be there. Being part of these rituals can provide them with closure and a sense of understanding. However, it’s essential to prepare them for what to expect and provide ongoing support during the process Remember that each child’s grief experience is unique, and it’s important to approach it with empathy, patience, and understanding. Seeking professional help from grief counselors or therapists who specialise in working with children can be beneficial in providing appropriate support during the grieving process.