5.7.3 Helping Children Who Grieve
Children grieve when someone loved dies – even though they may not seem old enough to understand. They need to be prepared for and included in the process. By being honest, open and loving, adults can help children grieve in a healthy way. Some suggestions that may be of assistance include:
- Tell your child what is happening in simple, honest and clear language that they can understand. Give only the information requested. Use factual words like “die” rather than “gone away” or “asleep.”
- Hold them. Let them cry. Don’t be afraid to cry with them. Acknowledge the reality that grief hurts.
- With warm sensitivity, listen to the child – to their feelings as well as their words. Let them know that it is OK to be sad or angry, that all their feelings are normal. Assure them that nothing they thought, did or said caused the death. Don’t hide or deny feelings.
- Ask the child if they have any questions. They may need to ask the same questions over and over. If you don’t have all the answers, don’t pretend you do. They need your listening presence, more than answers.
- Realize that grief causes difficulty in concentration. Schoolwork may be affected.
- Maintain a daily routine if possible.
- Encourage your child to decide what he or she needs and would like to do (e.g., visit the dying loved one). Prepare the child for what they will see, hear, smell and do.
- Value and share cherished memories. Honour your loved one through special rituals.
- Explore religious and spiritual beliefs. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers – just do your best to explain your beliefs in words children can understand.
- Talk about whether the child wishes to attend the funeral or not. Explain that the funeral is a time to honour and remember the life of the person who died. Consider the child’s age, understanding of death and closeness to the deceased.
- Find age-appropriate ways for children to participate in the funeral: Sharing a memory, reading a poem or drawing a picture (it could be copied and used for the service folder).
Grief is a natural expression of love for someone who has died. How the grief is expressed will vary from child to child. You know your child best and need to do what is best for them.
There are books on grief for your child to read or for you to read with your child. A list of resources is included below. Check with your local bookstore or public library.
- Saying Goodbye with Love: A Step-by-Step Guide Through the Details of Death by Sheila Martin (1999)
- Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies: A Guide for Families by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt (1994)
Disclaimer: Source Accuracy
You are welcome to download and save a local copy of this document in the Word and/or PDF formats provided. As the POGO Satellite Manual is subject to ongoing revisions and updates by POGO, we recommend you regularly check the online version posted at https://www.pogo.ca/satellite-manual/ to ensure you have the most up-to-date content. In the event of any inconsistency between the content of a local copy and the online version of the POGO Satellite Manual, the content of the online version shall be considered correct. Please see also the POGO Satellite Manual Disclaimer.
Record of Updates
|Version Number||Date of Effect||Summary of Revisions|
|1||8/24/2021||Original version posted.|