How Grief Affects a Child
Grief evoked by the death of a loved one is something we old folks find difficult to manage ourselves. When the cremation services are over, and the funeral flowers have wilted, we have to face the unbearable loss. The death of a loved one also means that a piece of us that rested in them has passed away, too. While grief is a manifestation of pain that we all feel to different extents, children process grief in ways that can often hamper their spirits. This can cause them to act in ways that change their behaviors and attitudes. And we cannot blame them because the effect of this death has an impact on their young lives, and its impact lasts forever.
Children, especially teens going through hormonal changes, have yet to develop healthy coping mechanisms for grief. It is even harder when this is evoked by the loss of a parent. After all, kids expect their parents to guide them and help them navigate the world. It is a blessing in itself to come full circle. Those children who may not see their parents into old age can be significantly affected. Take the shepherd away from the sheep, and it will have a difficult time finding its way to its destination.
Depression and Personality Disorders
Children and teens who have lost a parental figure are likely to succumb to depression if they do not find a healthy way to cope with the loss. Often times, they will feel upset and melancholic. Unfortunately, they do not know how to express themselves, which leads to frustration, anger, loneliness, and feelings of abandonment. Apart from depression, children who are grief-stricken by the loss of a parent or other close relative might develop attachment disorders. This situation leaves them unable to foster healthy relationships, or conversely, they become too clingy and are unable to leave unhealthy ones.
Being Withdrawn and Aloof
It is highly likely that kids who are grieving the loss of a parent will grow up to be withdrawn. In cases where children have been orphaned, the lack of parental love and guidance causes them to be awkward and aloof and have difficulty communicating and establishing relationships with other individuals. Often, they are reticent and non-participative in social gatherings for the reason that their prime source of interaction during their formative years were absent.
Attention Seeking Behavior
A child who has not experienced the caring, tender hug of a mother or the warm and safe hand of a father is at risk of becoming attention seekers. Now, you may think that people who love all the spotlight are innately selfish. However, most of these individuals are actually longing for love, care, and affection, which stems from the lack thereof when they were still children. Those kids who are unfortunately devoid of parental love may grow up seeking for a ‘substitute’ elsewhere, like a boyfriend or a high school clique.
Growing to Be Short Tempered
Losing a parent when you are a young is like losing a part of yourself. Emptiness fills your heart, and you begin to question the world. Most of the time, you won’t be able to get the answers to your questions directly, or you won’t know how to cope. This can lead to extreme feelings of frustration. If this is not addressed; over time, it will lead to bad temper. The annoyance of knowing there’s a part of you that you may never get back can make people easily irritable and angry at the injustice of life.
Loss of Self Confidence
Losing your number one cheerleaders at a young age can significantly hamper your confidence and self-esteem. Children who are grieving the loss of a parent feel that they have lost what made them most secure. This feeling of insecurity can lead to an extreme loss of confidence that can manifest in the way these kids speak, walk, act, and even sit or stand.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Teenagers who lose their parents will feel lost and confounded. In most cases, this grief leads them to act irrationally since they do not know how to deal with their pain properly. When you feel your life has gone awry and you are caught in a dark spot, it is easy to lose control and succumb to the temptation of worldly anaesthetics, like alcohol or drugs. Teens can easily cave because they are not mature and are ill-equipped to handle life. Sadly, teens do not know these things only provide that temporary high, but these harmful substances will never be able to replace the joy what was lost. In the misguided pursuit of happiness, teens may fall victim to substance abuse.
The grief that children and teens experience can take an immense toll on the lives that they lead. However, with proper guidance and care, they may very well get their life back on track. After all, no man is an island, and everyone needs some support. All you need is love, hope, and faith because as long as you are alive and are willing to spread the love, there is always hope to change for the better.