Supporting Children After the Loss of a Loved One
Alex Frodge, Megan Reese, Grace Morgan, Alyssa Mahle, & Lexi Fee
"Children have their own unique patterns of coping with separation and loss, which are distinct and different from adult patterns. It is critical to account for children’s levels of cognitive and emotional development when supporting grieving children and helping them cope with their own grief. Paying close attention to what they understand about death will help them learn to tolerate their own and others’ grief reactions."
Websites for Understanding Loss & Grief in Children
These websites offer insight into understanding how to approach children about loss and grief, skills and practices to support them through hard times, and further resources.
These websites provide information on how to support and approach a child with difficult and hard to understand news. It provides information for supporting each group, giving information on their emotional development, potential signs of grief, and skills to best comfort and approach a child during that time.
This website comes from a professional development website and provides information for adults on helping a child understand death by checking what they understand and information how to approach children with what to say and what not to say.
Children's Literature for Understanding Loss & Grief
Ida, Always by Caron Levis
This picture book is a beautiful story about loss and deep friendship, portrayed through the lens of two polar bears. This book could be helpful to young children (ages 4 and up) who are struggling to process feelings of grief and missing their lost loved one. This book could be read aloud and a child could continue to read this for comfort.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
This picture book explains the difficult feelings and processes that surround death. These feelings are especially difficult for children to express, and this book provides children with a space and vocabulary to do so. This book also gently and simply explains some of the normal processes (such as sadness and funerals) that follow death. This book can be helpful for a parent to read with their child, especially very young children, to address questions or worries they may have.
Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Miss-You-First-Look-Death/dp/0764117645
Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?: Letters to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers
This book by Fred Rogers addresses the many letters and questions he has received over the years. Some of these questions are more lighthearted, but some also address important topics such as family relationships and death. Mr. Rodger’s tone is gentle and sensitive, which would be great for any grieving child. This book would be great to read and discuss with young children and older children may be able to read it independently.
Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Rogers-Does-Ever-Neighborhood/dp/0140235159
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert
This book focuses on the many experiences of grief from many perspectives. This book is both affirming and comforting for those, of any age, experiencing grief, and also helps explain to a child why someone else might be grieving. This book could be especially beneficial for older children and tweens, or could be read and discussed in small chunks of text with a parent for younger children.
Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Tear-Soup-Recipe-Healing-After/dp/0961519762
One Wave at a Time: A Story about Grief and Healing by Holly Thompson
This beautifully illustrated picture book describes the story and feelings that a young boy named Kai experiences after his father passes away. The illustrations help express emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, guilt, and more. This story could be helpful and comforting for people of all ages. It would be a great book to read aloud to a child or can be read independently. The book’s discussion of different emotions would be especially helpful for parents to facilitate that kind of discussion with their kids.
Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/One-Wave-Time-Story-Healing/dp/0807561126
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
This picture book is a beautiful message about the power and gift of love. While it does not directly address death, the idea that your loved ones always be with you wherever you go will serve well to a child experiencing loss. This is a simple but powerful story that could be read and understood by children of many ages. For young children, it would be best read aloud but older children may enjoy reading it independently.
Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Wherever-You-Are-Love-Will/dp/1250017971
Movies to Help Children Understand Grief & Loss
We Bought a Zoo
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Podcasts to Help Understand and Support Children through Loss & Grief
Supporting Children’s Grief in the Classroom: Part 2-10 Tips and Strategies to Better Support Grieving Children
10 Tips and strategies are explored for the benefit of teachers, staff, and administrators to help support grieving children in the classroom.
Brennan, J. (Host). (2019, May 16). The Changing Perspectives Podcast. Episode 17: Supporting Children’s Grief in the Classroom [Audio Podcast}.
Grief Out Loud
Personal stories, tips, and interviews with professionals are portrayed to open the hard conversation about dealing with grief and death of a loved one for children, teens, and yourself.
Carter, K. (Host). (2020, September 21). Grief Out Loud Podcast. Episode 164: SUpporting Children and Teens in Grief [Audio Podcast].
Supporting Children Through Loss
Rabbi Karlin-Neumann, Stanford Graduate School of Education Student Dean Dan Schwartz, and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope analyze and discuss different ways children experience grief and the emotions they go through. They discuss different tips and techniques for adults to support the children in whatever way is needed with each student.
Karlin-Neumann, P. (Host). (2020, May 11). Supporting Children Through Loss Podcast. Episode 97: The Emotions Children and Young Adults Experience During Times of Bereavement [Audio Podcast].