Table 2.

Range of Common Grief Manifestations in Children and Adolescents

Normal or Variant BehaviorSign of Problem or Disorder*
Shock or numbnessLong-term denial and avoidance of feelings
CryingRepeated crying spells
SadnessDisabling depression and suicidal ideation
AngerPersistent anger
Feeling guiltyBelieving guilty
Transient unhappinessPersistent unhappiness
Keeping concerns insideSocial withdrawal
Increased clingingSeparation anxiety
DisobedienceOppositional or conduct disorder
Lack of interest in schoolDecline in school performance
Transient sleep disturbancePersistent sleep problems
Physical complaintsPhysical symptoms of deceased
Decreased appetiteEating disorder
Temporary regressionDisabling or persistent regression
Being good or badBeing much too good or bad
Believing deceased is still alivePersistent belief that deceased is still alive
Adolescent relating better to friend than to familyPromiscuity or delinquent behavior
Behavior lasts days to weeksBehavior lasts weeks to months
  • * Should prompt investigation by pediatrician; mental health referral is probable.