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Among the findings: 73% believe their lives would be “much better” if their parents hadn’t died young; 66% said that after their loss “they felt they weren’t a kid anymore.” Childhood grief is “one of society’s most chronically painful yet most underestimated phenomena,” says Comfort Zone founder Lynne Hughes, who lost both her parents before she was 13.
She says she is worried that educators, doctors, and the clergy get little or no training to help them recognize signs of loneliness, isolation and depression in grieving children—and in adults who lost parents in childhood.
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“I tell them: I’d do anything to spend Thanksgiving with my parents.” When polled, 57% of adults who lost parents during childhood shared Mr.
Herman’s yearnings, saying they, too, would trade a year of their lives.
Children are more apt to be buoyed by engaging in normal kid activities with supportive peers, and by receiving attention from adult relatives or friends who encourage them to talk about their feelings.
At the same time, the mental-health issues of grieving kids need to be better monitored by primary-care physicians in the days, months and years after their parents die, Dr. When surveyed about how they processed their grief, adults whose parents died when they were young speak of touchstones.