Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 6: Helping children through death and grief

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Live with HIV > Chapter 6: Helping children through death and grief


Young children know when they or someone else in their household is very ill, or when someone has died. They may not understand all the actions and feelings of people around them, but they know when something is wrong.

A caregiver’s illness or death will affect even a baby. To grow well, babies need loving, attentive caregivers. When a baby’s mother dies, or is very ill, or is busy or grieving because of illness or death in the family, her baby is often fed less, held less, and talked to or played with less. All of these slow a baby’s growth and development.

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Jojo’s mother is ill and weak. First Jojo cries more to get her attention. After a while, Jojo learns it does no good to cry, and he gets even less attention and food.
a child talking to a younger child
Are you feeling sad about your mama?
Children who lose someone close to them need loving attention, patience, and support as they grieve and find ways to go on with their lives.



Babies and children feel a deep loss when someone they love dies. However, children grieve differently than adults, and in different ways, depending on how old they are. When you know how a child’s family situation and age might affect how she grieves, it helps you better understand and support her.



This page was updated:27 Nov 2019