In honor of Children’s Grief Awareness Day, Thursday, November 21, 2013, we have provided five tips to help grieving children. This list was developed straight from the children who participated in Professor Child’s film, Children and Grief.
1. Encourage children to share their grief story. In Children and Grief, all of the children interviewed emphasized the importance of talking about their experience. “If kids don’t talk to anybody, I feel like they’ll be just left alone and keep on being sad,” shared Aurora, 9. Don’t be scared to ask kids difficult questions, they truly want to be heard.
2. If kids are not talking about their grief, don’t assume everything is okay. When a death of a loved one occurs, adults are often faced with grief and dealing with new worries and challenges. Children also have worries and challenges, but may not be sharing them out of concern for the adults. Encourage children to share their worries and challenges with you and let them know they are not alone in what they are feeling and experiencing. Check in regularly with kids by asking open-ended questions about how they are dealing with their loss.
3. Little Things Help. Children find comfort in small gestures that adults may overlook. Some things that may help children include going to the park, spending time with pets, being with family, looking at pictures of the loved one who has passed, talking to their stuffed animals, getting a pat on the back and simply being told that everything is going to be okay.
4. Condolence is a balancing act. In Children and Grief, all of the children interviewed expressed the importance of having others acknowledge the passing of their loved one. Although they want you to offer condolence, understand that they may not feel like talking about it at that time. But don’t give up! Keep asking how they are doing. Kids like to have people regularly check in on them.
5. Continue to celebrate and remember the loved one who has died. To help children work though grief, create a ritual/tradition to celebrate and remember a loved one. Have children come up with a way to celebrate the birthday of their loved one. Create a picture collage or any artwork to remind them of their loved one. Kids also like to decorate objects with things that remind them of the person who has passed. Let kids be creative by coming up with their own unique ways to celebrate their loved one.