Tips for Parents to Help Children Through Grief

  • As soon as possible after the death, set time aside to talk to your child.
  • Give you child the facts in a simple manner – be careful not to go into too much detail.  Your child will ask more questions as they come up.
  • If you can’t answer their questions, it’s ok to say ‘I don’t know how to answer that, but perhaps we can find someone to help us.”
  • Use the correct language.  Say the word ‘dead’ and or ‘death’.  Do not use phrases such as: ‘He’s Sleeping,’ or ‘God took her’, etc.
  • Ask your child questions to better understand what he/she may be feeling.  ‘What are you feeling?’ ‘What have you heard from your friends?’ ‘What do you think happened?’
  • Explain your feelings to your child, especially if you are crying.  Give them permission to cry.  It’s appropriate for children to see sadness and to share in feelings with their role models.
  • Use the give name of the deceased when speaking of them.
  • Understand the age and level of comprehension of your child.  Speak to that level.
  • Talk about feelings, such as: sad, angry, responsibility, scared, tearful, depressed, worried, etc.
  • Read a book on childhood grief so you have a better idea of what your child may be experiencing.
  • Read a book on death to your child.  Take time to discuss what you have read and tie it into what is happening to your family.