Chapter 6: Is more help needed?

When more help may be needed

The expert says
Andrea Warnick, children's grief therapist, outlines situations where children need professional help with their grief.(3:22)Video transcript

Gillian frequently complained of tummy aches, but always insisted they had nothing to do with her brother's death.

As is the case with adults, grief can affect a child's body, emotions, thoughts and behaviour. Most reactions are normal and will gradually disappear.

Many children will experience some of the signs of grief below. However, if your child's symptoms become severe, or you're worried they're continuing for too long, it may be time to talk with your family doctor or other medical professional.

Get professional help if your child is harming themselves by hitting, cutting or has suicidal thoughts. If they're at immediate risk of suicide, call 911 or take them to your nearest emergency department.


  • Experiencing chronic headaches and stomach aches with no obvious cause.
  • Sleeping too much or too little, waking frequently, having nightmares.
  • Eating too much or not enough.


  • Experiencing anxiety or depression. 
  • Feeling numb or showing no sign of grief.
  • Refusing to think or talk about the person or the cause of their death.
  • Denying the death. 


  • Overusing technology such as cell phones, video games and social media.
  • Struggling with daily activities such as attending day care or school.
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate. 
  • Becoming reluctant to leave home or be apart from their parents.
  • Losing interest in activities and relationships they used to enjoy.
  • Avoiding places, things, people or activities they associate with the person or their death.


  • Seeing repeated or unwelcome images of the person of the way they died.
    • This can happen during waking hours or as nightmares.
  • Worrying about the 4 Cs. 
    • Did I CAUSE it?
    • Can I CATCH it?
    • Can I CURE it?
    • Who will take CARE of me?

Learn more about the 4 Cs in Module 2. 

  • Developing negative beliefs and poor self-esteem.
    • For example, feeling they’re a “bad person” or “not good at anything.”