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After the death of someone close, like a parent or a sibling, your middle-years child may want to stay home from school for a few days. She may need to be close to you and other people who can provide her with comfort and support.

Before long, however, you need to get the family back into a routine. While allowing the grieving process to continue, also try to redirect your child's at­tention to the normal life events that can give her a sense of continuity. Re­turning to school can make her feel that her life is getting back to routine. Some children, in fact, work extra hard at school as a way of dealing with their grief.

Make sure you sit down with your child each day to talk about what she is feeling. Some symptoms related to the loss can continue or resurface after many weeks and even months. Perhaps holidays or the anniversary of the death will remind children of their loss. Youngsters are sometimes afraid to go to sleep. They may have fears of separation from their surviving parent. They might refuse to go to school, or become chronically depressed.

When these conditions linger, you may need to get your child some profes­sional counseling to put the healing process back on track. Family therapy may be useful if family members feel so overwhelmed by grief that they can­not get their lives into a regular routine. Also, ask your doctor for a referral to a support group for children whose siblings have died.


Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.