■ Be available to
listen. If you are struggling with your own feelings, try to have
other supportive adults around who your child can talk to, if needed.
■ Be a good role model. Try to avoid hiding your grief
from your child.
■ Realize that
a child’s grief may be difficult to recognize. Feelings may be
expressed more in behavior than in words or tears. Other common
physical changes you may notice in a grieving child are:
Tiredness, lack of
energy Change in
Feeling short of breath
Loss of muscular
strength Stomach pain;
General nervousness or trembling
Difficulty in sleeping or sleeping more than usual
opportunities for children to express their feelings of grief.
read a children’s book about loss; make a memory collage; and don’t be
afraid to initiate a conversation about the person/animal who has died.
Be aware of your own personal issues relating to death and loss and make
sure you are receiving whatever support you need.
■ Continue to
provide structure, routine, and limits. It provides an important sense
age-appropriate language and images. Young children understand
concrete, specific explanations much better than abstract concepts. For
example, “He passed away,” or, “the vet put Rusty to sleep” are
statements which can be quite confusing to a child.
■ Answer what is asked. Let
the child be in charge of what s/he is ready to hear as children can
only manage bits and pieces at a time.
■ Correct faulty
thinking (for example a child may blame him or herself for the death or
may worry about more deaths occurring). Try to tell the truth when
asked “why…?” Offer age-appropriate information about the death.
**This information was adapted from resource material provided by the
Langley Hospice Society