How children deal with grief
Do children understand death? Can it be painful for them to talk openly about losing a loved one? And how does a child feel sad and express their pain? “Many times adults want the child to understand the process. And I return to the question: do we adults understand? “, Asks psychologist and psychoanalyst Patricia Gramacho. Gained more subtle meaning: Mourning. By opening a series of reports, the project invites experts to address the plight of children, a moment that can be challenging for many families.
One of the main doubts and fears when approaching the subject with children is the trauma problem. “I think it’s important to define in advance what the term trauma will be,” Patricia noted. “Either way, all trauma is an excess, that is, something that does not have a presentation that can be integrated and exploited into a person’s inner world, mainly due to a lack of relevance to space, time and how it happened,” he says.
In this sense, according to experts, the way the child is approached in the matter can actually be traumatic in some situations. “For example: for a child whose first contact with death is the loss of a close family member, perhaps without the possibility of grief at some family ceremony, this experience can leave a difficult mark because of the emotional expression associated with the impossible,” he explains. “Some adults can’t stand the crying of a child. They quickly reported the deaths and avoided sensitive expressions. “
Another important issue is how the child will express his or her emotions when dealing with grief. Many will not be able to explain what they are feeling, indicating that adults must accept and respect them. “Crying over everyday irrelevant details may appear in the coming months, which should still be welcomed as an expression of the experience of loss,” he exemplified.
It is important to maintain a daily routine to get through the period, which can be a problem for the family. “Basic needs, eating, taking care of sleep. ‘Staying’ can facilitate the integration of the isolation that death causes us and sometimes, meeting with peers at school, for example, can help us move forward, but not go over the pain, ”Patricia commented. He suggests finding a specialist with the child, especially if there are signs of isolation, movement, guilt or self-harm.
The grief of 8-year-old Lorenzo Braz was reflected in the school. “She could not communicate with her colleagues. Her grades have dropped a lot. And we were only able to detect these symptoms because he took a tutoring class at the school and the teacher who came with him told me that his drawings were closely related to sadness and that he had difficulty accepting a drastic change in his life, “said Beatriz Viviros Braz, 35. , Lorenzo’s mother.
The boy’s school routine was directly linked to his great-grandfather, who died in 2021. “There was a very strong bond between them, because he stayed with her after school,” he explained. The epidemic has already alienated Lorenzo from his great-grandfather, who died very quickly after a urinary tract infection. About three weeks later, the older aunt of the younger one also died. “It simply came to our notice then. It was too heavy for her, “said the mother.
The support of the educator, who took a sensitive view of the symptoms affecting Lorenzo’s mental health, was fundamental to the referral and traumatic process to a psychologist. There was also family support and was extremely important, such as the company and care of Grandma Alcion, who welcomed her grandson home after school.
“We never lied to him. We deal with it in a more humorous way, but we present the reality that she, in fact, will no longer be with her grandmother, “said Beatriz.
Support network is essential
According to Patricia Gramacho, a support network is essential in this process. “He acts as a‘ tribe ’while going through these difficult times, but not infiltrating,” he says. “At this point it’s important to ask about the child’s desire to attend the funeral or just to see the loved one in a more isolated family moment.”
Professionals are involved in many cases where the adult primary caregiver may be extremely helpless and unable to deal with the child immediately. “In this situation, I almost always ask what the other reference image would be for the child, so that this person can always be by the child’s side,” he said.
Emotions can be accompanied by physical and non-specific symptoms, as explained by pediatrician Anna Escobar. “Children’s ‘biological’ reactions can cause nausea, headaches, abdominal pain, and sometimes limbs. These symptoms reflect anxiety and depression through this type of somatization, when we find and do not find any physical cause for such symptoms, “he said.
“In the case of mourning, we have also noticed a greater loneliness on the part of the children. They tend to be more isolated from others in their own small world – and in this case, the screens are still in favor of this behavior by engaging in series and games.