Since people understand death differently at different stages of development, the emotional support they receive needs to reflect the child’s ability to process the information.
When death occurs at a decisive time in the adult’s life, such as at a time of a wedding, a graduation, birth of a child, or other pivotal moments, accepting and dealing with this loss can be even more difficult.
For example, if the adult is struggling with health issues themselves, the parent’s death raises questions of his or her own mortality.
Renewed grief on these occasions is known as an anniversary reaction, and while these reactions can re-occur for years, they are most common for the first three to 24 months.
These types of anniversary reactions are even more pronounced in children.
Psychological research has shown that a person’s age affects his or her ability to cope with the death of a parent.
According to clinical psychologist Maxine Harris, Ph D, in her book “The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father,” the loss of a parent before adulthood has a profound effect on the rest of that person’s life.To prevent this, psychologists suggest grief therapy for the child, allowing the child to express his or her feelings and providing feedback and activities to pursue when grief resurfaces. Additionally, younger children were more at risk for depressive symptoms than older children.Children need age-appropriate support—that is, counseling and support that correlates to the way a person processes death at a certain age—to deal with the effects of the loss of a parent and the ensuing grief.A sense of relief—both for oneself and for the parent who was suffering—is normal.Losing a parent will also sometimes turn surviving siblings into caretakers for younger brothers and sisters.Losing a parent means a loss of childhood, of innocence, and a part of oneself. “You are now forced to cope with the loss of parental love and attention that was given uniquely to you, and that you depended on, possibly even took for granted.” says Carol Staudacher, grief educator, consultant, and author of the book “Beyond Grief.” As young people, we depend on our parents. They typically provide us with information about the world and moral support. The circumstances of a parent’s death affect the intensity of a person’s grief.