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Common Responses of the Grieving Child or Teen

Academic Responses to Grief

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Failing or declining grades
  • Incomplete work, or poor quality of work
  • Increased absences or reluctance to go to school
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss
  • Overachievement, trying to be perfect
  • Inattentiveness
  • Daydreaming

Behavioral Responses to Grief

  • Noisy outbursts, disruptive behaviors
  • Aggressive behaviors, frequent fighting
  • Non-compliance to requests
  • Increase in risk-taking or unsafe behaviors
  • “Hyperactive-like” behavior
  • Isolation or withdrawal
  • Regressive behaviors
  • Increased need for attention
  • A need for checking in on surviving parent(s)

Emotional Responses to Grief

  • Insecurity, issues of abandonment, safety concerns
  • Concern about being treated differently from others
  • Fear, guilt, anger, rage, regret, sadness, confusion
  • “I don’t care” attitude
  • Change in values, questioning what is important
  • Depression, hopelessness, intense sadness
  • Regression to times when things felt safer and more in control
  • High need for attention
  • Overly sensitive, frequently tearful, irritable
  • Appears unaffected by death
  • Preoccupation with death, wanting details
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Social Responses to Grief

  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Withdrawal from activities or sports
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Changes in relationships with teachers and peers
  • Changes in family roles (e.g., taking on the role of the deceased parent)
  • Wanting to be physically close to safe adults
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior/acting out
  • Stealing, shoplifting
  • Difficulty with being in a group or crowd

Physical Responses to Grief

  • Stomachaches, headaches, heartaches
  • Frequent accidents or injuries
  • Increased requests to visit the nurse
  • Nightmares, dreams or sleep difficulties
  • Loss of appetite or increased eating
  • Low energy or weakness
  • Hives, rashes, itching
  • Nausea, upset stomach
  • Increased illness, low resistance to colds and flu
  • Rapid heartbeat

Spiritual Responses to Grief

  • Anger at God
  • Questions of “Why me” and “Why now?”
  • Questions about the meaning of life
  • Confusion about where the person who died is
  • Feelings of abandonment and emptiness
  • Doubting or questioning  previous beliefs
  • Seeing the future as meaningless

Safe Harbor

Learn more about the program here

You may also call 215-481-5983 or email us for more information.

Please watch this video (password SH2020!!) prior to contacting us regarding enrollment in the program.

The Holiday Grief Kit

The National Alliance For Grieving Children has created the following tool kit to help grieving families navigate this holiday season.

Helping through Donation

Safe Harbor needs your help to sustain and expand our program.  We rely on contributions from individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations. Please contact the Office of Philanthropy at 215-481-4438 or Safe Harbor at 215-481-5983 for more information about donations or gifts-in-kind.