Grief and Loss for Children
Children need a lot of love and support from the caring adults in their lives to help them cope with loss. Here are some strategies that might help children process their grief:
- When you talk with children about death, be aware of their age and communication abilities. Be sensitive to and respectful of their cultural background.
- Keep in mind that grief is natural and normal.
- Be honest with children about the tragic experience.
- Allow children the opportunity to talk openly about their grief and sadness.
- Encourage children to ask questions about death and loss.
- Be aware of your own need to grieve; share your sadness and grief.
- Don’t assume that children always grieve in an orderly or predictable way. No two children grieve alike.
- Let children know that you really want to understand what they are feeling or what they need.
- Children often show their grief rather than talk about it. For instance, they may show their feelings through their social interactions and play.
- Give children outlets to let go of their anger and stress, such as sports, hobbies, physical play, and arts.
- Watch for difficulties such as nightmares, separation anxiety, reversion to outgrown behaviors, withdrawal, and anger. Set aside some time to help children explore their feelings and thoughts.
- Following a loss, choose what a child is exposed to carefully.
- Grieving is a process. Children will need long-lasting support.