When a child loses someone he or she is close to, the child might not fully understand what is going on. They might not be able to understand the grief that they feel. These children will rely on the adults in their lives to help them work through everything they are feeling.
One thing that adults have to understand about children is that they don't feel grief in the same ways adults do. They can go from having a crying spell to playing in a short time, but this doesn't mean that all is well. Instead, children tend to use playing as a way to focus on something else so that their feelings don't overwhelm them.
A child might need help from trusted adults to learn how to express his or her feelings. Very young children might not have the vocabulary to let you know what they are feeling. Older children might just need to know that they have a listening ear when they are ready to talk.
It is often difficult to determine exactly how you can help the child. One way that you might be able to help younger children is by having them draw pictures about what they are feeling. You might also be able to help a child of any age create a scrapbook or some other form of memory book to help him or her remember the person who is gone.
The grief that a child feels might be compounded when the loss of his or her loved one was sudden and unexpected, such as if the person was the victim of a fatal crash. In these cases, the child might need extra help to learn to cope with his or her feelings.
Source: Child Mind Institute, "Helping Children Deal With Grief," Rachel Ehmke, accessed Aug. 04, 2017