John Bowlby, a British psychologist and the first attachment theorist, believed that a child’s brain is wired at birth to create a bond or connection with their primary caregiver, usually the mother. He describes this connection or bond as the “blueprint” for how a child learns about relationships.
“The central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.”
This early secure attachment encourages trust, growth, development of positive self-esteem, the ability to build other relationships and the capacity to cope. However when children experience trauma such as a death of a primary caregiver their world can be turned upside down and influence how they feel about themselves and how they cope with the loss, which in turn can create insecure attachments. If children are not supported adequately during loss, this insecure attachment can have an impact on the development of future relationships as they may be afraid to trust or love other people in fear that they too may die or disappear from their lives. This insecure attachment is one of the factors that can influence the child’s capacity to cope and affect the intensity of the child’s experience of grief.