10 Ways to Help Kids Deal with the Loss of a Family Member or Friend


Experiencing loss is a part of life.  Losing someone is a challenge no matter what age you are.  Imagine how much harder it is for children who have never experienced what it is like to be separated from someone they love.  Here is a list of things to keep in mind when talking with your children about the loss of a family member or friend.

1. Be the one to tell them

If possible, you should be the one to tell them in person.  Wait until a time when you feel you can tell them calmly.  It’s better for the news to come from someone your children love and care about.  As their parent, you know better than most how to communicate with your children, and you know how much detail they can handle.

2. Be willing to listen

This can sometimes be difficult, especially with very young children. Ask questions and then be sure to listen to their answers. Watch their facial expressions and body language before you decide how to respond.  There will be things they don’t understand and you might be able to clear things up.  That being said, don’t feel pressured to answer all of their questions.  Be honest.  You don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay.  Some children will not react immediately. Grief can take a while to sink in…days or weeks.  Be prepared to listen even when you have passed the grieving stage.

3. Show them how to grieve by your example

Besides experience, one of the best ways to teach your children is by your example.  This might be your child’s first time experiencing loss.  They will learn how to grieve by watching you.  Your kids will need someone to look to during this hard time.  Lead by example on how to grieve.  Be real.  Know that each person deals with grief differently. Your child may react totally different than you, and each child may grieve differently from each other.  Some can get their grief out in tears, some in distraction, some in journaling. Some may not be able to grieve until everyone else has moved on.

4. Be there for them

Don’t become so engulfed in your emotions that you miss out on what your children are feeling.  During this time, you want to be available to them and be sensitive to their needs and emotions.  Ask them how they’re feeling.  This ensures that you get a sense of how they’re doing, and how you can better help them mourn.

5. Remind them of the good times

Remembering really helps your child move forward.  Share stories with each other and ask your child what their earliest memory of their loved one is.  Dwelling on good things and fond memories will help them deal with the pain.

6. Give them hope

No matter how overwhelming their feelings may seem, remind your children that there is still hope and that their hope must rest in God.

7. Maintain routine

With the loss of family or friends, life seems really unpredictable and unstable.  Make it a priority to keep things as consistent as possible.  Allow for a time of mourning, but try to maintain their schedule.

8. Hold them

Embracing your children really makes a difference in the grieving process too.  Death has a way of interrupting your world, causing life to seem unstable and insecure.  Holding your children creates a sense of security.  It also reminds them that someone else is there with them.

9. Support from friends & family

Having family and friends involved is very important.  Spending time with others helps your children to feel that they’re not alone.  Some kids may fear who is going to die next, including themselves.  It’s important for loved ones to know that and love, love, love on your kids.

10. Closure

They need some way to say goodbye.  Each person is different.  For some, a funeral is enough. For others, some type of tribute is necessary.  Your child needs to participate in a farewell.  Closure helps them to move forward in life.

How has your family dealt with the loss of a family member or friend?

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