10 Things Grieving Children Want You to Know

Author Lauren Schneider, LCSW Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Programs
Created in Partnership with Our House

Ten Things Grieving Children Want You To Know

1. Children want to be told the truth about the death:

  • Tell them in age-appropriate and direct language
  • Ask them if they have any questions and clear up misconceptions

2. Children look to you as a role model for how people grieve:

  • Share your feelings with them as long as they are relieved of the task of having to “fix it”
  • Each child will grieve in their own unique way
  • They will grieve alone in an effort to shield you from their pain

3. Children want to talk about their person who died:

  • They need you to tolerate listening when they tell their story or share their feelings
  • They fear that they will forget their loved one

4. Children express their emotions through play and behaviors which may be problematic for you:

  • They can’t always tolerate intense emotions or know how to talk about them
  • They might make decisions you don’t agree with
  • They need to take breaks from their grief and engage in age appropriate activities.

5. Children need to know who would take care of them if you could not:

  • They may fear for your safety especially when you are apart

6. Children benefit from being included in mourning rituals:

  • Your child needs the opportunity to participate in ongoing rituals
  • Rituals aid in their understanding of death

7. They need you to help them feel safe:

  • Provide clear and consistent boundaries, limits and expectations
  • Give them room to safely interact with peers and adults outside of the family

8. They need to be taught coping strategies:

  • Include ways to comfort themselves in your absence

9. Children need to be included when making decisions:

  • About how to celebrate holidays, birthdays and anniversaries
  • About other family circumstances such moving or changing schools.

10. Children need you to take care of yourself: they will only adapt as well as you do.
 



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