6 Tips for Helping Children Grieve

The loss of a loved one can feel like the end of the world, especially for a child. By helping your child grieve, your child can build a new normal life, one where happy memories exist with the hope for brighter days.

In her newly released book, A Tiny Step Forward, author Charlene Khaghan lets young children know that if they have lost someone close, be it friend, pet or family member, it is okay to feel upset and miss the person they are grieving. And, in the days that follow, it is okay to once again feel happy and to enjoy life as their loved one would have wanted for them.

Here are 6 Tips from Charlene for Helping your Child Grieve

1. Acknowledge your child’s grief.

It is important to recognize that your child is grieving. Be careful not to impose your own grief on your child, but rather allow him or her to grieve in his or her own way. It is normal for children to feel a variety of feelings, including sadness, anger, and fear. Parents might worry about their children when they go from one feeling to the next, but experts assure parents that children will grieve as much as they need to, as long as they are allowed to do so.

2. Be honest and explain the loss.

It is important to present the news in a straightforward manner with age-appropriate information. Children may have difficulty processing lengthy explanations, but they do need facts. Something as simple as, “Uncle Joe’s heart stopped working yesterday which made his body stop working.” Older children will need more specific facts, such as the name of an illness. Remember to stay focused on this one incident and provide frequent reminders that you are ok.

3. Share Memories. 

Find ways as a family to remember your loved one. Perhaps it’s something that’s visible on a daily basis, like planting a tree in the back yard or creating a special picture book all about Uncle Joe, or sending off balloons once a year— anything that connects your family to your loved one who has passed.

Charlene Kaghan
Charlene Kaghan
A mother of five children, Charlene’s husband passed away suddenly when their youngest child was only three years old. Not only was she forced to deal with her own pain from the loss, she had to find ways to help her children deal with their own feelings of grief and sadness. Khaghan has a master’s degree in special education and LMSW in social work. She taught high school special education for many years and currently works as a therapist in a university counseling center.

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