Grieving is different at different ages

When a person is grieving, there are age and emotional factors that influence a way a person will perceive death.  It is said that death doesn't effect children the way that it does an adult.  I'm not sure if that is true or not.  I think it depends on the child and their relationship to that adult.  

Children younger than 7, have the ability to perceive death as a kind of separation.  They may feel that they have been abandoned, and will show signs of being scared.  Sometimes young children will fear being alone or they don't want to leave people that they love.  Grieving young children, may not want to sleep along at night, they might refuse to go to daycare, to a babysitter or school.  Sometimes younger children have a hard time verbally expressing their feelings, or they are unable to.  Instead, they act out their feelings through behaviors, such as having trouble following directions, having a temper tantrum or meltdown, or they might struggle to play.  I have heard that if they are younger than the age of 2 when the loss occurs, they may refuse to speak.  Children between 2 and 5 may develop eating, sleeping or toileting and bed wetting problems.  
Children that are between 7 and 12, have the ability to perceive death as a threat to their own personal safety.  They tend to fear that they will die or that someone else they love will die.  They may try to protect themselves and others from death.  While some grieving children want to stay close to someone they think they can protect, others seem to withdraw, as they think it won't hurt as bad when that person dies.  Some kids behave well and don't seemed to be bothered by death.  Yet others can behave horribly.  They might have problems concentrating on schoolwork, following directions, and simply struggle to do daily tasks.  Children that are in this age group need to be reassured that they are not responsible for the death they are grieving for.  
Teens and adults perceive death alike.  Though a teenager might express their feelings in a dramatic or unexpected way.  They might join a religious group that defines death in such a way that it will calm their feelings.  They may try to defy death by participating in dangerous activities, like reckless driving.  Others may turn to smoking, drinking, doing drugs or having unprotected sex.  Like adults, teens will sometimes have suicidal thoughts while they are grieving.  
Just remember that everyone will experience grief they own way and in their own time.  Just be there for someone who is grieving.  Call them, send them a note or text, visit with them, take them out (if you can get them out).  


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