Ways Grief Can Affect Children

Grief can affect our feelings: 

Shock – feeling surprised and disturbed by a sudden powerful event
Numbness – can’t feel any emotion
Disbelief – do not believe it really happened
Anxiety – feeling nervous and worried
Fear – do not feel safe, or feel that loved ones are safe
Betrayal – feeling someone purposely chose to hurt you
Emptiness – feeling hopeless and sad, with nothing to give others
Apathy – things do not seem important anymore, not caring what happens
Impatience – want things right away and have trouble waiting
Sadness – feeling unhappy and sorrowful
Powerlessness – having no control over what is happening
Agitation – inability to relax, shaken up
Despair – to lose hope
Uncertainty – feeling unsure
Shame – feeling dishonored or disgraced
Guilt – self-blame, feeling regretful about doing or not doing something
Thankfulness – appreciative
Relief – to feel free from stress, pain or burden
Loneliness – feeling alone
Isolation – removed or away from others
Anger – a strong emotion of displeasure with others or with an event
Strength – tough, powerful
Weakness – frail, powerless
Uselessness – feeling worthless
Helplessness – feeling like there is nothing one can do to make a difference
in a situation

Common physical reactions:

Sleep changes: too little or too much
Weight and appetite changes
Deep sighing
Feeling weak
Energized: feeling strong/invincible
Muscle tension
Pounding heart
Headaches and stomach aches
Easily shaken by certain sights or
sounds (perhaps reminding you of
the loss)
Increased number of colds &

Common Behaviors and Social Reactions

Overachieving or trying to be super good
Underachieving or trying to be super bad
Changes in grades at school
Being preoccupied and forgetful
Being more clumsy
Crying a lot, or more easily
Blaming others
Not caring about things, wanting to drop out
Wanting to spend more time alone
Trying to stay constantly active
Dropping out of social activities
Pulling away from other’s attempts to touch and comfort you
Wanting more attention and affection
Seeking approval and assurance from others
Being aggressive, getting in more fights or arguments
Showing more creative expression through music, writing, and art

Common Mental Reactions

Difficulties in concentrating
Continuously thinking about the loss
Difficulty making decisions
Low self-esteem
Believing you were responsible for
the loss
Increased or decreased dreams
Increased nightmares
Thinking everyone is watching you
Thinking you are different from
everyone else
Self-destructive thoughts


Common Spiritual Reactions

Feeling lost and empty
Feeling abandoned/punished by God
Questioning a reason to go on living
Feeling like you don’t belong
Questioning your religious beliefs
Feeling spiritually connected to the
person who died
Feeling spiritually connected to God
Needing to receive forgiveness
Finding hope in prayer/spiritual
Finding purpose in life