10 Things Grieving Children Want You to Know

#1 – Grieving children want to be told the truth.

Tell grieving children the truth with these considerations in mind:

  • The age of the child
  • The maturity level of the child
  • The circumstances surrounding the death
  • Answer questions as honestly as you can

#2 – Grieving children want to be reassured that there will always be someone to take care of them.

  • Grieving children spend a lot of time worrying about another person in their life who might die.
  • To help alleviate this fear, it’s important to reassure them that there will always be someone in their life who will take care of them.
  • Enlist the aid of their parent or caregiver to determine a plan for the children. Let the children know what the plan is.

#3 – Grieving children want you to know that their grief is long lasting.

  • A child will grieve the person who died for the rest of their life.
  • Grieving kids don’t “just get over it.”
  • They will often be bewildered when other people in their life seem to have moved on.
  • Their grief changes over time as they mature.

#4 – Children often cope with grief and loss through play.

  • Children grieve through play.
  • Typically, they cannot sustain prolonged grief.
  • Children use play as a way to cope with their grief and to take a break from the grief.

#5 – Grieving children want you to know that they will always miss the person who died.

  • People die, but love doesn’t die.
  • Grieving children will miss the person who died for as long as they live.

#6 – Often, grieving children want to share their story and talk about the person who died.

  • Having an opportunity to tell his or her story is often beneficial to a child’s healing process.
  • Sharing memories about the person who died is also very important.
  • Grieving children don’t want to forget the person who died – they are also worried that others will forget their person.

#7 – Every child grieves differently.

  • Every child has his or her own grief journey and own way of grieving.
  • Some children might be more expressive with their grief.
  • Some children might keep it all in.
  • Siblings grieve differently.
  • Just because children come from the same family doesn’t mean that their grief will be the same.
  • It is important to honor each child’s story, even if it is different than his or her sibling’s story.

#8 – Grieving children often feel guilty.

  • Grieving children will often feel pangs of guilt.
  • Even if the guilt is not justified and has no basis in reality.

#9 – Even though I might be acting out, what I’m really feeling is intense emotions of grief.

  • Grieving children frequently feel sad, angry, confused, or scared.
  • Since they might not know how to express all of these emotions, they may end up acting out instead.

#10 - If you’re not sure what a grieving child wants, just ask him!

  • When in doubt, ask a grieving child how you can help.
  • Check in with the child – do they want to talk about the person who died? Maybe not.
  • Expect myriad answers.
  • Do they want to write about their grief or do some other activity to express their grief?