Helping Children Cope with Grief

As adults, it can be a very difficult thing to explain death to children and to know how to help them cope with a loss. Here are some ways to help children get through and understand the loss of a loved one. 

Be honest 

Talk to them straight forward about what has happened, keeping it age appropriate. Avoid using euphemisms, such as telling kids that the loved one "went away" or "went to sleep" or even that your family "lost" the person. Because young kids think so literally, such phrases might make them afraid to go to sleep or fearful whenever someone goes away.


Encourage kids to express their feelings. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad. Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling and ask any questions they may have about death.


Express your own feelings. Allow them to see you cry, children need to know that grieving is acceptable.


Attend the Funeral. Whether or not to attend the funeral is a personal decision that depends entirely on you and your child. Funerals can be helpful for providing closure, but some children aren’t ready for this experience. 


Consider enrolling them in a support program. Such groups are offered periodically throughout the year by hospices and other community agencies.

Cherish the memories. Talk about the loved one who has passed. Make Picture books, look at family photos, and share memories with each other.