We learn how to grieve
by watching our parents.
Just like adults, when children are not allowed to grieve or talk about their feelings, they hold all of that sadness, guilt, and anger inside. And, just like adults, it will eventually surface in other, more destructive ways.
Be open and honest with children about what has happened. Remember, children don’t find it awkward to talk about death—that’s an adult construct. However, it’s important to talk to them at a level appropriate to their age and level of development. Use simple language, like “She was very very very sick and she died”, and avoid using euphemisms like “She went to sleep” to avoid confusion about sleeping and death.
Kids are kids first. They are grievers second. Children love to play, create, and do things with their hands and bodies. Grief doesn’t stop that.
Here are three activities you can do with your children:
- Create a memorial box together: Decorate and fill it with things that remind you of happy memories and the adventures you had together.
- Make a Grief First-Aid Kit: This is a box filled with things to turn to when they need to be cheered up. Include things like memories, chocolate,
a movie, a journal, old toys, pictures, or other activities.
- Go volunteer together at a local pet shelter. This is not to adopt! This is just to give back and be around other animals.