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Mendhekar DN, Lohia D
Correspondence: Dr Dattatreya N Mendhekar, firstname.lastname@example.org
The concept of “absence of grief” in children has been embedded in psychoanalytic literature since its beginning. The clinical phenomenon of grief in a toddler is rarely described or analysed in the psychiatric literature. Early theorists felt that grieving does not occur until adolescence due to a younger child’s psychological structure, including poor object-relations development. However, data on grief reaction in preschool children has mostly been under-reported or neglected, especially since most of the studies on childhood grief have been conducted on school-age children. We present a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, whose emotional and behavioural reactions to the loss of her grandfather became a focus of clinical attention. This report shows that even toddlers can mourn for loved ones, although the expression and process of grief differ from that of older children and may occasionally draw clinical attention. Suggestions on how to investigate this phenomenon more closely and how to avoid it in socio-cultural contexts are proposed.
Keywords: bereavement, children, cross-cultural, developmental psychology, grief
Singapore Med J 2010; 51(2): e34-e36