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Homepage :: Child & adolescent disorders :: Bereavement and loss in childhood :: Essential information for carers and family

Essential information for carers and family

  • Bereavement in childhood is a risk factor for later difficulties (separation anxiety disorder, anxiety, depression or other emotional disorders during childhood and adolescence, and depressive disorder in adult life). The risk can be reduced by good early management and therapeutic intervention, if indicated (see the next page for General management and advice to patient).
  • Multiple losses such as moving house or school or repeat changes of carer should be avoided. If unavoidable, try to prepare the child, and enable them to keep contact with previous attachment figures for a time after any move.
  • Children over five, if well supported, might benefit by seeing the dead parent, because this helps them to understand about the non-functionality of death. (They do not benefit from seeing a mutilated or unrecognizable parent.)
  • They also are helped by attending the funeral, providing they wish to, and the surviving parent agrees.
  • Agencies such as Cruse Bereavement Care offer bereavement support and counselling and publish book lists and pamphlets for children and adolescents.
  • Family therapy has been shown to improve children’s functioning after bereavement. This might be available from the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), and other agencies.

Last edited: 16/2/2004

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