Children and Grief
Grieving children will often talk through or play out their concerns or fears if provided with a safe, supportive and creative environment.
When a child experiences grief, we are here to help you find the words to discuss death and dying with your child. Our staff is very dedicated the children of our community, and will take every opportunity to provide healing support and understanding to every child in need.
One very important way to increase awareness of children’s needs is to dispel the myths that surround their grief.
Myths About Children and Grief
1. Young children do not grieve. Children grieve at any age. Their grief can be manifested in many ways depending on their age, developmental stage, and life experiences. Children often do a very good job at grieving intensely for a time and then taking a break. The break is usually in the form of play. Adults often mistake a child’s play as a sign that the child isn’t grieving, which is just not true.
2. Children should go to funerals. Children should not go to funerals. Both statements are myths. Children, even very young ones, should have a choice whether they want to attend the funeral. Each child handles their loss differently and should be allowed to grief as they wish. For their choice to be a meaningful one, they need information, options, and support.
3. Children get over loss quickly. Adults never get over a significant loss so why should children? The truth is that no one really gets over a significant loss. We can learn to live with the loss and adapt to the reality that the one we love is no longer here, but we can never forget the intense feeling of loss. Children may revisit their loss at different stages in their development and as their understanding of the loss changes, their grief may arise again.
4. Children will be permanently scarred by a significant loss. Children, like most people, are resilient. A significant loss can affect a child’s development but adequate support and continuing care can help them deal with their feelings of grief appropriately.
5. Encouraging children to talk about their feelings of grief is the best way to work through their loss. It is important to allow children to talk through their feelings and to promote open communication. However, other approaches, such as art, play, music, and dance allow children to express their feelings.
Children and adolescents may use these methods to express their grief and adapt to their loss with a more positive outcome. Working through grief and adapting to loss is important for children. Studies have shown that children and adolescents that have unresolved grief are at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety as adults.
It’s important then that family members recognize the needs of grieving children and help them access the resources they need. Below, please find a list of books available to help with the grieving process in young children.
I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
Missing Hannah by Darlene Kane
Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
Dragonfly Door by John Adams
Flying Hugs and Kisses by Jewel Sample