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Supporting a Grieving Child

When a death occurs, it’s important to acknowledge that children grieve as well. Here are some ideas to help you support a child dealing with grief.

Offering support to a child can be as simple as opening up a conversation, or making a simple statement. Here are a few suggestions of things to say: “I’m sorry your ________ died.”; “Would you like to talk about it?”; “I care about how you are feeling”. Try to avoid comments that could be harmful, such as “I know just how you feel”, “Get over it”, “Be strong” or “Don’t cry”. These types of statements may be more harmful than good, even with the best of intentions.

Giving the child a memory bag can also be a nice way to support the child through this difficult time. Get a sturdy tote and fill it with a variety of items, such as seeds (to plant in honor of the loved one), a journal for the child to write their thoughts/feelings in, a book, some paper and markers/crayons for the child to create a picture, and any other items that the child would like to keep as memories of the loved one who has passed.

The power of touch is a very powerful thing. Give the child physical contact.

It’s important that no matter how you choose to support the child, that you allow them as much time as they need to grieve. Some children may regress, which you should allow them to do.

If you’d like more information on helping a child who is grieving, please visit these websites:

http://childgrief.org/childgrief.htm
http://www.centering.org/index.php?page=book&id=50
http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/griefwar.pdf

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