Trauma, loss and grief

Trauma, loss and grief

Grief occurs when people experience any significant loss in their life. Grief is the emotional, physical, and behavioural reaction to loss. Children in care have experienced major loss in their lives.

Grief does not happen in clear cut stages as was once thought. Grief may come and go. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people are open and expressive, others are private, may be reluctant to talk and prefer to keep busy.

Children respond differently to loss and grief. They may lack the ability to express their feelings. Children often express their grief through behaviour such as separation anxiety, crying, withdrawal, bedwetting, disinterest in food, or disruptive behaviour at school. One day they may seem okay and another day they will show that they are not okay by crying, being unsettled or demanding. This is their way of expressing their need for care and support.

Things you can do to help kids cope

  • Notice small achievements, show you’re proud. Talk about them in positive and respectful ways
  • Be warm, kind and caring - this helps children heal from trauma
  • Children with kind and caring carers say they feel loved and that this helps build their self-esteem and their hope for the future
  • Be generous - children do well when carers are generous with their time and resources
  • Don’t expect children or their families to be grateful – seeing children do well is reward enough
  • Be open to learning new things - great carers are curious carers
  • Involve children’s families – an important part of helping children heal from trauma
  • Don’t get angry or blame children for behaviour that may be a response to their experiences
  • Listen and talk to them about what’s happening, their experiences, how they’re feeling
  • Be understanding if they can’t do normal activities for a while
  • Help them find ways to express their emotions and comfort them when they’re distressed
  • Be aware of dates such as Christmas and birthday's that may trigger memories and emotions
  • Maintain routines, particularly around sleeping, eating and regular activities
  • Give them special attention and do activities you all enjoy as a family
  • Allow them to make choices and encourage expressions of independence
  • Never threaten to ‘send them back’ because of their behaviour
  • Avoid comparing their losses to others’ experiences
  • Follow through with commitments
  • Prepare them well in advance of any changes

You can find more information by visiting these websites.

Want to become a carer?
To become a foster carer your ability to care and nurture a child is what really matters.
To learn more, visit the LWB foster care website