Author(s): Kranzler EM, Shaffer D, Wasserman G, Davies M
Acute bereavement responses in preschool children were prospectively assessed. Parentally bereaved subjects (26, 3- to 6-year-olds) were compared with matched, nonbereaved controls (N = 40). Bereaved subjects, particularly boys, were significantly more symptomatic (Child Behavior Checklist--Parent). On a newly standardized affect interview for preschoolers, bereaved children reported feeling more scared and less happy than controls. Bereaved children, especially girls, reported significantly more sadness when thinking about their parents. The ability to report these grieving emotions correlated significantly with improved functioning. Children from families experiencing a drop in income after the death were more symptomatic. Disturbance among subject parents and children was highly correlated. Issues of developmental capacity to grieve and the impact of environmental mediators are discussed.