Losing a Parent- Affects on Children

One of the harshest realities that a child could have to face is the death of a parent. Parents, who are the pillars on which the life of a child stands, their loss can mean a permanent damage to the way in which a child’s life shapes up. Millions of children each year lose their parents to natural and unnatural causes. The incident tends to have varying kinds of impacts on their minds ranging from temporary to permanent depression and to the extreme scenarios where the child could develop suicidal tendencies or suffer emotional and mental damage.

However, if such children are given proper care and attention, such impacts could be averted, helping the child overcome the grief and grow up to be a healthy individual. Here is how this can be done by following 3 simple steps-

  1. Recognize the Behavioral Signs of Grief:

The death of a parent affects a child at various levels; however, not all children display their grief and sorrow openly. Still, there are some signs that can be spotted in the behavior of the children who suffer grief due to a parent’s death-

  • Staying withdrawn

  • Making attempts to look for the deceased

  • Avoiding places which would remind one of the deceased

  • Crying when alone or at the slightest provocation

  • Changes in eating habits or appetite


  1. Let the Child Accept the Reality:

In cases where you find that the child is not able to come out of the incidence of the parent’s death, it becomes important that the child accepts the reality. The child must experience the grief and sorrow and at the same time accept the fact that the deceased person is no longer around him/her. Once this is done, the child should be encouraged to memorialize the deceased in his/her life in a different way. For instance, some people set up a corner in the house where they place the deceased’s photograph so that they are in one’s sight all the time; a few others keep the memories of the deceased safe in the form of a few objects related to them; etc. Though indirect ways of holding the deceased’s memories close to one’s heart, these help one accept the reality and move on with life.


  1. Be a Constant Support:

The best remedy that can be provided to a child who has lost a parent is your constant support and care. Whether you are a guardian of the child, the other parent or are related to the child in any way; here are the few methods that you can adopt to help a child come out of the grief of a parent’s death:

  • Talk to the child:

    It is important that you give the child the opportunity to talk and express his/her feelings at the death of the child. It is obvious is that the child has quite a lot to say, ask and express at this incidence; hence the least you can do is offer then your shoulder and ears so that they can give a vent to all those emotions. At the same time, you might the child to be quite confused or even agitated at the events in his/her life. Your job in such a case would be to help the child come to terms with the reality and help them to accept it in a healthy manner.

  • Encourage diversions:

    Though you cannot wipe the event off from the child’s life, what you can actually do is try to engage the child in some other activity that can divert his/her attention from the event to something else. You may try to take the child out of town for a while as changing the locale can help in coping up with the grief. You may even try letting the child have some activity or hobby work, which can utilize the endless energy in the child in a positive manner.

  • Don’t force the child to forget the deceased:

    As hinted above, you can never make a child forget the parent; hence, it would be wise if you don’t make efforts for the same. Instead, help the child to memorialize the deceased and set them up as a memorable figure which can inspire and guide the child in all phases of its life.

With all these steps and your constant efforts, you are sure to make a child come out of the grief and agony of having lost a parent. However, if you find that the situation is not improving and your efforts are not bearing a fruit, it would be wise to consult a counselor and let the child’s psychological state get proper attention.


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