Understanding: Children and Grief

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Children’s feelings of grief are complex. Many explanations commonly used to discuss death with children actually serve to confuse them. Fear for the lives of other family members or their own life is common. Do not use the word “sleep” when describing death. Children should be given simple, honest answers as to what is happening. They need to be included in the family grieving process. They should be encouraged to express their feelings. It is helpful for them to know that adults also have these feelings and that it is o.k. to share them. Protecting or shielding children from the family grieving process denies them the opportunity for healing. Refrain from making any unnecessary changes in the child’s life.

The funeral or memorial service should be open to children for participation and may be helpful in communicating the finality of death. Age does make a difference. For help in understanding how children of different ages grieve, seek the assistance of Namaste Hospice Bereavement Team.

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