TIP SHEET

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.
CATEGORY
Parenting and Advocacy, Family issues
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