But Morris said "sharing the grief" and learning to celebrate happier moments with family during the following Christmas made the grief more manageable.
To help children and teens, Morris holds six-week programs throughout Washington County schools that help children deal with grief during the holidays. She also hosts Healing Hearts groups at Brook Lane, specifically geared toward adolescents.
Grief, Morris said, takes time. On average, it can take 18 to 24 months to grieve, she said, but usually in a matter of days a child returns to school or an adult to work
"But then we are all still numb," she said.
Grief can take on different forms, especially with children.
"It depends on the age and the emotional maturity level," Shelley said.
She said small children, especially, often cannot verbalize their feelings.
"And all kids are prone to acting out as opposed to expressing and verbalizing because most of us, even adults, will regress emotionally under duress," Shelley said.
She said it's not unusual for a child of 17 or 18 to act like a 3- or 4-year-old for a time.
Shelley said the Kubler-Ross model that uses five stages of grief don't always apply.
Expressing their grief could come in any type of form — not eating, being depressed, being angry, feeling anxious or not being able to understand why.
Morris said in elementary school-aged children there might be clinginess with a child and an adult, or the child will exhibit anxiety, fear or worry.
Children in middle school, which she said is "a really, really tough time for youngsters anyway," might become more defiant or withdrawn because they think they believe they should be able to handle the grief.
For a teenager, grief can by shown through exhibiting anger, she said, because the loss is a "lack of control over the emotions that are way too 'not cool' to be having in the first place."
One sign of grief, especially in teenagers, could be that their personal hygiene doesn't matter anymore, Morris said.
Morris said a lot of middle-schoolers and teens might engage in risky behavior such as sexual promiscuity or substance abuse, which, she said, are ways to self-medicate.
"It's like, 'Nothing can hurt me,'" she said. "And the reason nothing can hurt me is because I'm already hurting."
It's because of that, Shelley said it is hard to say what's going to happen during a child's grieving process.
"Gear yourself to be ready for anything out of the ordinary," Shelley said. "The best thing is to validate the feeling and normalize it for them — of course we don't accept inappropriate behaviors — but they really need lots of validation."
She said it's OK to indulge a teen's temporary regressive behavior such as thumb sucking or extra cuddle time.