How to comfort a grieving child

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the most challenging human experiences. Grief can bring confusing and conflicting emotions, especially for children. Even very young children feel the loss a loved one. They often learn how to express grief by watching adults around them.

Understanding Children’s Needs

Children need support and security after losing a loved one. They may need reassurance that they will be taken care of and are safe. You can help children to experience and process their grief by demonstrating that it’s okay for them to feel emotions and ask questions about their loss.

Open communication helps a child express distressing feelings. Some children may act out confusing or painful feelings at school or at home. Children may express themselves through stories, games and artwork. Encourage this self-expression and look for clues about how they are coping.

Often, it may make sense to ask for help. Inform a child’s teacher or guidance counselor about their loss. Ask medical professionals, social workers or trusted friends who have children to help you address the sensitive issues of loss and grief. Rely on friends or a support group for your own support.

Recommended Approaches

Consider these suggestions to help a child to experience and process their grief:

Reassure them

Tell them that they are loved and that their safety, security and happiness are your top concern

Reinforce structure

Keep your child’s daily routine as normal as possible

Speak the truth

Use sensitivity and make special considerations when talking to children about end of life. Children may worry that they did something to cause their loved one to pass away. The truth helps them see that they are not at fault. Read the full article on the best ways to comfort a grieving child here.

Reprinted with permission from