It’s normal for a child to express any or all of these grief symptoms over the course of several weeks or even several months. If extreme symptoms persist beyond 6 months, however, it could be a sign that a child is suffering from complicated grief disorder.

What is complicated grief disorder?
Complicated grief disorder is a newly created mental diagnosis added to the diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013. It was created as a way to try and get help for those struggling to overcome a difficult loss.

How to tell if a child has a grief disorder
In order to qualify for complicated grief disorder, your child must be suffering from severe mourning that’s lasted at least 6 months, and also meet two sets of basic criteria:

A) They must continue to yearn for the deceased on a daily basis or to an otherwise disabling degree.

B) At least 5 of the symptoms listed below must be so severe that they significantly hinder a child’s ability to function.

Signs & symptoms of complicated grief disorder in children:

  • Extreme confusion about one’s role or place in life
  • Trouble accepting the loss
  • Difficulty moving on with life
  • Bitterness or anger regarding the loss
  • An inability to trust in others since the death occurred
  • Ongoing numbness since the loss
  • Feeling stunned, dazed or shocked
  • Avoidance of any reminder of the death/an unwillingness to confront the loss
  • A sense that life is meaningless now.