A Guide for Brisbane Parents
As a Brisbane parent, learning about how children grieve differently and providing compassionate support can deeply help comfort your kids during the difficult experience of bereavement. Through open communication, patience, and accessing local counselling services, parents hold the power to profoundly heal and help our children, even while we ourselves are steeped in mourning.
How Children’s Grief Differs from Adults
After a death, children usually enter into a lament less outwardly but equally as deep as adult grievers. However, kids express their sadness differently across all ages and stages:
- Preschoolers may show distress through play by repeatedly discussing death, asking questions about what happens after someone dies, or drawing disturbing images. They also may regress in behavior, become afraid of the dark or nightmares, or worry about their parents dying.
- School age children can better grasp that death is final. They may complain of stomachaches, headaches, or fatigue as they internally process the enormity of loss. Or their mourning may manifest as behavior issues or declining academic performance.
- Pre-teens may deny their sadness as they try conforming to peer group norms. But depression, anger issues, self-injury and avoidance coping behaviors often percolate under their mask of resilience.
- Teenagers fully understand grief, often experiencing pangs of loss similarly to adults. They can grow isolated from parents and friends as they navigate intense sadness, guilt, anxiety, or hopelessness in the wake of tragedy.
Why Grief Looks Different in Kids
But compassionate parental support makes all the difference. Children surrounded by patient, attuned caregivers who help them walk through anguish have better bereavement outcomes across all ages. Their grief may never disappear entirely, but it need not destroy their future wellness or ability to form trusting relationships.
What Brisbane Parents Can Do
- Gently ask open questions about what thoughts or feelings they have about the death
- Reassure them that whatever emotions they experience are 100% normal
- Don’t worry about always having the “right” answer; just listening helps them feel understood
- Have children participate in funeral or memorial planning in age-appropriate ways if they wish
- Together at home make a memory book, box or album to honor the deceased
- Let older kids write letters to the deceased expressing what they wished they could have said
- Regressive habits usually pass; avoid punishing unless actions place safety at risk
- Acknowledge anger, reinforce healthier outlets for frustration
- Set reasonable goals for chores and school until concentration return.
- Provide creative outlets like writing, music, theater for airing feelings
- Let younger kids role play or draw pictures about the death
- Share age-appropriate books for better understanding their experience
Know When to Seek Help
- Headspace Brisbane offers grief counseling for 12-25 year olds struggling with loss of a loved one, tailoring interventions to specific requirements – https://www.headspace.org.au
- Child psychological services. The Queensland Government has a page to assist you in finding the right support – https://www.qld.gov.au/health/children/school-age/mental-health
- Find a psychologist. The Australian Psychological Society and Australian Clinical Psychological Association lets you search local practitioners specializing in childhood trauma, anxiety, and depression – https://acpa.org.au/Web/Web/Events/Find-a-CP/FACP.aspx or https://psychology.org.au/find-a-psychologist.
- Find a counsellor, The Australian Counselling Association lets you search for counsellors that can help you through this time – https://www.theaca.net.au/find-registered-counsellor.php