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Bereavements and loss

When a child experiences the loss of a loved one there are typical grief reactions, these can include:

  • A range of diverse emotional reactions, often mixed; anger, sadness, joy, fear, guilt
  • Disruptions to sleep; hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Disruptions to appetite; comfort eating or reduced appetite due to anxiety
  • A greater need for tactile comfort
  • Overt worry for surviving family members.

Bereavements during this time are likely to be complicated, either:

  • Due to sudden loss from a death by coronavirus
  • Or, an inability to follow ‘normal’ grieving behaviours, such as attending funerals or visiting unwell relatives before they die.

The coronavirus pandemic and the period of social distancing create additional challenges and normal grief behaviours are impacted upon.

  • Sudden loss may leave children with many more questions unanswered and heighten worries about other family members
  • Limited exercise and cognitive stimulation impacts on natural sleep cycles
  • Reduced availability of ‘private’ space when entire families are at home makes it more difficult to carry out some grief behaviour, such as reflective thinking, remembrance activities and crying
  • Social distancing may mean children from ‘blended’ families have not seen a parent or sibling face to face for several weeks. This reduces their support network and may be experienced as a secondary loss. Research indicates that concurrent loss has a greater impact on bereavement and is linked to ‘poorer’ outcomes in grief.

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