21 Children, Teens and Suicide Loss Understanding Suicide Grief in Children and Teens It’s important that as you go through the grief process along with your child, you do your best not to judge their words or behaviors. Instead, listen actively and openly, and try to understand the range of emotions and concerns they may be experiencing. What’s normal for my child to do, say, and feel? During a time of grief, emotions might come all at once, like a flood, or show up one by one, over a long period of time. Children and teens may not show any outward signs of grief, or they may express their feelings through their behaviors, physical complaints, or questions. Bear in mind some displays of emotion that seem unrelated to loss may in fact have grief at their root. If you sense this might be the case, be sure to encourage conversation during a calm moment. Some common emotions children experience when a loved one dies of suicide are: • Sadness: A profound and pervasive sadness may saturate happy memories from the past, or wishful dreams for the future • Fear: Your child may fear that someone else in their life will die; other common fears include being alone, being around a lot of people, going to sleep (especially if the child has nightmares), and being away from caregivers; you may also notice your child’s fears growing more intense close to significant days and holidays • Anxiety: Children may become anxious about what will happen next in their lives, hyper-vigilant about their immediate surroundings, and sensitive to any changes; they may also be keenly sensitive to stories of other suicide deaths or of injustices in the world; teens may worry about how the death will affect future plans, such as attending college