Traumatic Grief occurs when a child develops trauma symptoms related to the death of an important person which interfere with their normal grieving process. For example, the child may avoid thinking about or talking about the loved one who has died due to having upsetting images or memories about how the person died. Children experiencing Traumatic Grief may also exhibit physical or emotional arousal including concentration difficulties, trouble sleeping, somatic symptoms and increased vigilance. Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has the strongest evidence for effectiveness in treating Traumatic Grief in children.
Prolonged Grief Disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) this year. For children and adolescents, Prolonged Grief Disorder can occur at least 6 months after the death of a close person. Children may have persistent feelings of emptiness, numbness, loneliness or a sense of a foreshortened future. The symptoms of Prolonged Grief Disorder impair the daily functioning of the child. For example, academic decline or withdrawal from friends.
*S Hillis, et al. Covid-19-Associated Orphanhood and Caregiver Death in the United States. Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2021-053760 (2021).