03 February 2021

How parents can support their child through COVID-19 losses

Coronavirus is unprecedented in our lifetimes and people around the world are mourning a sense of normalcy and routine. Some may also be grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19. Loss, grief and bereavement are difficult and complicated for anyone, but especially so for children – who may be dealing with this for the first time in their…, What are the differences between loss and grief?, “Loss and grief are powerful psychological experiences that leave adults and children feeling both disrupted and often very sad,” says Dr. Damour. “We might use the term loss to talk about the loss of things that may return – such as the rhythms and routines of life before the pandemic.” Grief, on the other hand, is for something more permanent, “…, How do children feel loss and grief differently from adults?, According to Dr. Damour, a lot will depend on the age of your child. “Very young children may be confused about what happened – both with loss and grief. Children under the age of 5 may not understand why they don’t go to school and why their parents are home. In the case of death, they may not really understand what death is or understand that it…, How can I help my child navigate these emotions?, Be empathetic and be honest with children of all ages, but make sure to be especially clear with young children. “Children under the age of 5, need and deserve very clear, very simple explanations that do not include euphemisms. We can’t tell children that we ‘lost’ someone, because they won’t really understand what we’re trying to say. It’s more…, I lost my own parent and am grieving myself. How can I still be supportive of my child?, “It’s not necessarily bad for children to see adults grieving,” explains Dr. Damour. “When we’re sad about the death of someone we love, we’re having the right reaction at the right time. And it’s important for us to model for children how to weather a difficult feeling, even if it’s a very painful emotion.” If your grief feels too overwhelming,…, What can I expect when my child is grieving the death of a loved one?, According to Dr. Damour, “It’s not at all unusual for children ages 6 – 11 and teenagers to have periods of disbelief or shock about the loss of someone close to them – or even to have moments of forgetting that it occurred, which is a normal and healthy defence that simply gives the mind a break from very painful news. Defences come and go, and…, I’m worried that my child may be depressed. What are some signs to look for?, “Loss and bereavement are both very painful experiences,” explains Dr. Damour. “It’s important to know when a child is handling them appropriately and when it’s time to worry. For children of all ages and adults, it’s time to worry if painful feelings are being managed with negative coping mechanisms such as emotional withdrawal that lasts for…, Missing out on important events is taking a toll on my child. What should I say to him?, “Kids have every right to be upset about how coronavirus has disrupted their normal lives,” says Dr. Damour. Their losses feel bigger for them than they do for us because this disruption is a greater percentage of their time that they remember being alive – and we’re measuring it against our lifetime and experiences. “The way that we adults can be…, My child is having a hard time understanding why we are all staying home right now. How can I explain it to her?, Dr. Damour recommends giving young children a point of reference. “It can be helpful to say: ‘You know how we keep you home from school when you have a cold so you don’t make other people sick? Well this is like that, but it’s a virus that’s more dangerous than a cold. And so we stay home to make sure that we don’t catch the virus, and people with…