Helping Grieving Children: How to Support a Child Through Grief

Dealing with grief is difficult for everyone, but it can be especially challenging when helping children to grieve.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Apr 24, 2023
5 Minute Read

Experiencing grief is a natural and deeply personal process, especially for children who have lost a parent or a loved one. As family members or caregivers, it is essential for us to provide the necessary support and understanding to help them navigate through the grieving process. 

In this blog, we will explore practical ways to assist a grieving child, highlighting the importance of communication, support groups, and spending quality time together as part of the healing journey. By understanding the unique needs and emotions of children in times of loss, we can offer them the comfort and care they require.

Talking About the Person Who Died

 One of the most vital aspects of supporting a grieving child is creating a safe space for them to express their emotions and memories of the person who died. Encourage open dialogue by sharing stories, looking at pictures, or even creating a memory box together.

By validating their feelings and allowing them to reminisce, you can help them understand that it is okay to grieve and talk about their loved one. Remember, talking about the person who died keeps their memory alive and supports the child’s healing process.

Participating in Memorial Services

 Attending memorial services can play a significant role in a child’s grieving journey. Prioritize including them in discussions about memorial services and provide opportunities for their participation. Involving them in planning or contributing through drawings, letters, or poems allows children to express their emotions and honor their loved one’s memory. By including them in these rituals, children feel a sense of belonging and connection to their family and community during this challenging time.

Joining Grief Support Groups

Grief support groups specifically designed for children offer a valuable platform for them to connect with peers who are also experiencing the pain of death and grief. These groups provide a supportive environment where children can share their feelings, fears, and questions with others who can empathize. 

Seek out local support groups or online communities recommended by organizations such as the National Alliance for Grieving Children. By participating in these groups, children can find solace in knowing they are not alone and build a network of support beyond their immediate family.

Spending Time Together

During times of grief, spending quality time with a grieving child is essential. Engage in activities they enjoy, such as playing games, reading books, or going for walks, as these help create a sense of normalcy and security. Actively listen to their concerns, fears, and questions without judgment or rushing to provide solutions. By being present and attentive, you show them that their feelings matter and that you are there for them unconditionally.

Supporting the Grieving Process

 The grieving process can be complex and unique for each child. It is crucial to be patient and understanding, allowing them to grieve at their own pace. Be aware that children may exhibit their grief differently from adults, displaying behavioral changes or regression. Validate how the child feels, offer reassurance, and let them know it is okay to be sad or angry. Encourage the use of creative outlets such as art or writing to express their emotions. Additionally, consider seeking professional help if the child’s grief becomes overwhelming or persists for an extended period.

Encouraging Age-Appropriate Expression of Grief in Younger Children

 When supporting younger children who are grieving, it’s essential to understand that they may not have the same emotional vocabulary as older children or adults. Encourage them to express their grief through age-appropriate means such as drawing, playing, or using toys to act out their feelings. Create a safe and nurturing environment where they feel comfortable sharing their emotions, even if it’s through simple words or gestures. By validating and acknowledging their feelings, younger children will develop healthier coping mechanisms and gain a sense of understanding about their grief.

Provide Consistent and Stable Routines

 After the death of a loved one, maintaining consistent routines can provide a sense of stability and security for children. Young children, in particular, thrive in predictable environments. Stick to regular mealtimes, bedtimes, and daily activities as much as possible. Consistency helps them feel a sense of control and normalcy amidst the overwhelming emotions they may be experiencing. Ensure that their basic needs are met and that they receive ample physical affection and reassurance. By providing stability and routine, you can create a supportive foundation that helps them cope with grief more effectively.

Find Grief Support with Grief Works by Illume

Getting support when grieving is essential. It can be challenging, but you don’t have to worry!

The Grief Works app helps you overcome grief and connect with a community that cares for you. It also offers live monthly calls and the ability to chat with a therapist when needed.

Moreover, it has a built-in journal book for your daily diary and the Grief Works Curriculum to guide you in this wonderful healing journey.