When mom passed away, one way Josie (4 at the time, now 5) was effected was that she had a complete regression in terms of sleep. In a nutshell, she went completely back to infant stage in regards to sleep- so back into our bed, frequent waking, asking to be worn in a sling (She was too big but I would tie a blanket around and have her sit on my lap in the "sling"), needing tons of contact even if she wasn't actually napping. Over the course of about 8 months we went back through all the stages from bedsharing in our bed, to me laying with her in the girls room, to sitting with her and patting her, to her finally being able to just go to bed and be back where she had been. And, like the initial natural progression, this was not smoothly linear, there were stops and starts during this time.
At this point she's been pretty much solid back in her own bed since mid-December and very secure, even to the point of Jeff and I being able to go for a night away during Christmas break. Since then, the only time she has slept with me was when we all had the flu a few weeks ago.
Yesterday was my husband's birthday so he and I went out for a fancy dinner and were out late etc. so she didn't see me all evening. She went to her room to bed with no trouble, but about 11 pm she came in to our room and crawled in with me.
I asked what was wrong and she did her usual, "I just can't sleep without you! I need you to sleep." We have been working on trying to be more accurate in describing our needs so I said, "well, we know you CAN sleep without me, so it is not that. What do you think you need right now?" (because she clearly did have a need). She thought for a minute and said, "I didn't see you for a long time today and I need you to hold me." So, she lay with me and snuggled and we chatted for a bit.
Having her sleep with me is very uncomfortable (she's big, I have a bad back) so after a bit of snuggle I gave her some options, she could go back to her room or she could sleep in the recliner in our room. She said, "well, I do feel safe in your chair... but I also feel safe with my Joy (her big sister) and it is more comfortable there." Another five minutes of cuddling and she got up and went back to her own bed and slept the night (Keep in mind this is nearly midnight in the dark house, she confidently brought herself to my bed and when she was ready, confidently took herself back to her own room).
I just want to encourage you that when the naysayers tell you that by engaging in bedsharing and other attachment and responsive parenting practices the child will "never be able to sleep on their own", they are wrong. I can not stress enough that independence is not forced or even "taught", it is developed, naturally, when the child feels secure.
None of this will happen overnight, it is a process. But it is worth it. A step back does not mean you have lost, it means that the child is going though something and needs you. Sometimes that is a BIG step back and it takes months of patient love to get them through, other times it is a very simple need to connect and it takes 15 minutes.