One in 14 children will experience the loss of a parent or a sibling before they reach the age of 18. Every day, children and teens grieve a significant loss. November 18 is Children’s Grief Awareness Day. This day focuses on bringing awareness, support, and education about the effects of children’s grief.
This awareness is important because grief looks different on the outside for children and teens in comparison to adults. For example, children and teen grief is sometimes more visibly displayed in their behaviors. It is important to know how to support a grieving child because the support they receive can have a lasting impact as they become adults.
Tips for supporting a grieving child/teen:
- Provide age appropriate honestly to children and teens about the death. Honesty builds trust and healing for children and teens after a death.
- Offer outlets for expressing feelings. Children often don’t have the vocabulary yet to express their feelings of grief. Encourage outlets such as drawing, writing, music, or sports. Encourage them to develop healthy coping skills.
- Offer opportunities for remembrance. Children and teens often want to talk about their special person who died. It helps them to still feel connected to that person.
- Normalize feelings whenever the opportunity is available. Children and teens need to know that what they are feeling is normal.
- Provide ongoing support. Grief never ends and this is especially true for children and teens. They are going to grieve throughout their lives. Each time they go through a developmental milestone, they are going to process the loss in different ways.
On November 18, I encourage you to wear blue and share with as many people as you can the reason you are wearing blue: to bring awareness to children who are grieving. Another way to participate in Children’s Grief Awareness Day is to visit their website here.
Also check out these sites for more information about grieving children:
Recommended books for children who are grieving:
- The Invisible String by Patrice Kurst
- When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Brown and Marc Brown
- The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland
- Samantha’s Jane’s Missing Smile: A Story about Coping with the Loss of a Parent by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus
Grief Counseling and Support Groups for Children and Teens:
Angela Hospice Grief Care offers free one-on-one counseling for children and teens who have experienced a loss. Angela Hospice also offers a children’s creative connections grief support group that meets twice a month, every first and third Tuesday of each month at Angela Hospice.) This group provides music therapy and grief counseling in a creative way for kids to explore their loss in a supportive environment. For more information go to the Angela Hospice website or call 734-953-6058.