Helping a grieving Child

Helping a grieving Child
August 10, 2021 1 Comment Inspirational emmahjoy


Children just like any other person, grieve a major loss or the loss of a loved one. There are so many instances where children are left out or ignored when the entire family grieves. The children should be given attention because they too have emotions and attachments to the deceased that they have to deal with. It might be a rude shock and a frustrating experience for the child trying to understand why the loved one has died.

A research showed that 1 in every 20 children loses a a parent before they graduate high school. The same statistics reveal that 1 in every 7 would experience the death of a close family member before the age of 10 (Torbic., 2011). Therefore it is important to know how to handle children who are grieving or have experienced a loss.

Helping the child grieve

The most important aspect of helping someone that is grieving is to know that grief lasts a long period and that no one gets over it. The entire process of helping a grieving person is helping them to find meaning in life, helping them to come to the reality that things would have to change and that expressing the feelings is a huge step towards healing. So how can you help?

  1. Listen to the child. Some of the children are very open and would like to engage in conversations as they try to understand what death is.
  2. Answer their questions as clearly as you can. At their tender age they are lost and frustrated. Giving honest feedback sensitive to their age can help them.
  3. Hug them with consent. It gives them the reassurance that there is someone looking out for them.
  4. Understand that their moods would vary. Some days they would be up and about and the next day they could be sad and withdrawn.
  5. Engage them in meaningful activities if possible.
  6. Do not avoid talking about the deceased. When the conversation comes up, engage them in a sensitive manner.
  7. Remember that regression can be part of the grieving process therefore handle it calmly.
  8. Do not force conversations on them. Children have a way of easily opening up. Be ready to notice when they want to talk
  9. Respect that they might grieve in a different way than other people.
  10. Listen to them again. Their conversations could be hidden in the non-verbal gestures.

There are some more ways of helping the child to grieve listed by the National alliance for children’s grief. Here is the PDF that you can have with you.

If you are a teacher this is how you can help:

Stay in touch. The teacher can keep an open communication with the child’s guardians to help in monitoring and handling difficult situations.

Remember the loss. It is easy to deal with the child when the teacher memorizes which of the student is grieving. It helps to pick out discussion topics that are not overwhelming and helps the child know someone cares for them.

Stay observant. Monitoring the child’s healing journey is important. It would help to catch activities such as self-harm, depression and withdrawal symptoms that could be used by a therapist.

Keep the normal school routine. The child is already going through a period of transition and there are changes at home. Having the school life routine, would help the child to find a given level of stability.

Here are some resources that can help you in handling a grieving child.

Resources for younger children

  •  I Miss You: A First Look at Death,by Pat Thomas, for ages 4 and up
  • When Something Terrible Happens, by Marge Heegaard, for ages 8 and up
  • “I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand …”: A Child’s Guide To Grief and Loss by Pat Palmer
  • I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off A Little Self-esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell
  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown
  • Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

Resources for Teenagers

  • Helping Teens Cope with Death by The Dougy Center
  • Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest
  • Good Answers to Tough Questions About Death,by Joy Berry, for ages 6-12
  • Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies,by Janis Silverman, for ages 8 and up
  • Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Bryan Mellonie, for all ages
About The Author
Leave Comment
  1. 1

    When is it time for professional help?: Helping a grieving child – @Dailyinnerstrength

    […] my previous article, I have written about how anyone can help a grieving child. However, sometimes the grief can extend to a point that requires a counselors’ help. The […]


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *