Death of a loved one can be difficult to navigate with your children.

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Death is that inevitable phenomenon that no one really cares to talk about, especially with your children. As we go through life death often pops up when we least expect it. This post is dedicated to resources to support your efforts in guiding your child through the tough process of death of a loved one.

Thoughts

Parenting While Grieving

How to help a grieving child

Grief Tip Sheets

Talking to Kids About Death and Grief: 10 Comprehensive Tips

The Grief Coaster: Understanding stress in grief

Journaling

Grief Activity Books for Kids 3-9

Activities

Here are some things you can do to help you express your feelings.

Activity 1:  finish the sentences

Finish the following sentences.

The thing that makes me feel the saddest is …..

If I could talk to the person who died I would ask….

Since the death my family doesn’t….

My worst memory is….

If I could change things I would….

One thing that I liked to do with the person who died was…

When the person died I….

Since the death my friends….

After the death, school….

When I am alone….

Is there anyone you want to share this with?

Activity 2: drawing

Find a piece of paper and fold it in half. On one side, draw a picture of your family before the death. On the other side, draw a picture of your family after the death. You might want to share your picture with someone who would understand.

Source

Activities for Grieving Children

Sesame Street Materials-

  • Storybook (2.1mb PDF)
    Curl up with this printable book, starring your child’s favorite characters: Elmo and Jessie.
  • Caring Cards (631kb PDF)
    Have these cards on hand when you need a conversation starter, an activity idea, or just a little inspiration.
  • Memory Chain (709kb PDF)
    Connect all your favorite memories—our paper chain template shows you how.

Books

List of children’s books about death (PDF)

The Dougy Center Materials (Books and Pamphlets on Death, Dying, and Grief)

1. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children (kids 5+)

2.The Invisible String (kids 3+)

3. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Reading Rainbow)  (kids 5-8)

4. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (kids 6-9)

5. I’ll Always Love You (kids 3-7)

6. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families) (kids 4-8)

7. I Miss You: A First Look at Death (First Look at Books) (kids 4+)

8. The Saddest Time (kids 6-9)

9. Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss  (kids 8+)tear soup

10. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages (kids 4+)

11. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying (kids 4+)

12. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss (kids 4-8)

13. Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile: A Story About Coping With the Loss of a Parent (kids 5+)

14. The Scar (kids5-9)

15. A Terrible Thing Happened (kids 4+)

16. The Elephant in the Room: A Childrens Book for Grief and Loss (kids 4+)

17. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad (kids 4+)  elephant in the room

18. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

19. Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children (kids 4+)

20. When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 5+)

21. Someone I Love Died (kids 4-8)

22. What Happened When Grandma Died? (kids 4+)

23. Always and Forever (kids 4+)

24. Badger’s Parting Gifts (kids 4-8)

25. Ghost Wings (kids 5+)

26. Finding Grandpa Everywhere: A Young Child Discovers Memories of a Grandparent (kids 7+)

27. The Grandpa Tree (kids 3+)nana upstairs

28. Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 6+)

29. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins) (kids 4-8)

30. Daddy, Up and Down: Sisters Grieve the Loss of Their Daddy (kids 4-8)

31. Saying Goodbye to Daddy (kids 4+)

32. The Angel with the Golden Glow: A Family’s Journey Through Loss and Healing (kids 4+)

33. Where’s Jess: For Children Who Have a Brother or Sister Die (kids 3-6)

34. A Taste of Blackberries (kids 8-12)

35. Bridge to Terabithia (kids 8-12)

36. My Grandson Lew (kids 4-6)

37. Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope: A Read Aloud Story for People of All Ages About Loving and Losing, Friendship and Hope (as the title says, people of all ages!)

38. The Empty Place: A Child’s Guide Through Grief (Let’s Talk)(kids 5-10)

39. Dancing on the Moon (kids 3+)  sammy in the sky

40. Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister (kids 6+)

41. Stacy Had a Little Sister (A Concept Book) (kids 4+)

42. Ragtail Remembers: A Story That Helps Children Understand Feelings of Grief (kids 4+)

43. Goodbye Mousie (kids 4-8)

44. Remembering Crystal (kids 3+)

45. Rudi’s Pond (kids 5-8)

46. The Memory String (kids 4-8)

47. Sammy in the Sky (kids 4-8)

48. Where Do People Go When They Die? (kids 3-8)

49. Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories (kids 3-8)

50. Her Mother’s Face (kids 4-8)

51. Remembering Mama (kids 4+) her mother

52. Old Pig (Picture Puffin)(kids 3-8)

53. Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa (kids 3-7)

54. Saying Goodbye to Lulu(kids 3-6)

55. The Mountains of Tibet(kids 7+)

56. Rabbityness (kids 3-7)

57. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

58. Can You Hear Me Smiling?: A Child Grieves a Sister (kids 8+)

59. The Copper Tree (kids 5-8)

60. Everybody Feels Sad (kids 4+)

61. Grief is Like a Snowflake (kids 4+)

62. My Baby Big Sister: A Book for Children Born Subsequent to a Pregnancy Loss (kids 4-8)

63. Ladder to the Moon (kids 4-8)

64. Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement (kids 3-8).

Source

Camp

Grief Camp 

Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement program for youth grieving the death of a significant person in their lives.

Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.

Camp Erin is offered in every Major League Baseball city as well as additional locations across the U.S. and Canada. The Moyer Foundation partners with hospices and bereavement organizations to bring hope and healing to thousands of grieving children and teens each year

Organizations

National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC)

Family Lives On Foundation

School

When death impacts your school

Therapy Materials

Clinical Grief Activities for Working with Bereaved Children

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Death of a Pet

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The death of a pet can be very difficult for a family to cope with emotionally. This post has some insights and tools to use with your children to help with the process of grieving the loss of a pet.

Articles

Why The Death Of A Pet Is Especially Devastating For Children

DEATH AND GRIEF IN THE FAMILY: TIPS FOR PARENTS– NASP

Kids and Dealing with the Death of a Pet

 

7 Ways Parents Can Help a Child Through the Grief Process

1. Do not trivialize the death of a pet. Children need time and opportunity to mourn. They need their parents to validate their feelings and understand how much they miss their pet, and they may need to miss a day of school or a soccer game. “Grief is appropriate,” Segal says. “It’s how we heal from losses. Your child’s grief is an indicator that your child has learned to love.”

2. Suggest different ways to remember the pet. Your child may want to draw pictures of the pet, make a scrapbook, or create a memory box. She may want to have some sort of memorial service. She may want to place photos and mementos in a special place. Planting a tree in memory of a pet can also be comforting, Sife says.

3. Let the child’s caregivers know about the death. Inform your child’s teacher, babysitter, piano teacher, and coach. Let anyone know who might otherwise be confused by your child’s sadness. Ask teachers if anything is coming up in the curriculum that might warrant preparation—for example, will your child be studying a novel that features a pet or a death?

4. Don’t rush to replace the pet. It’s tempting to rush out and get a new dog or cat. Your child may even ask to get a new pet right away. But explain that the family needs time to mourn the loss of the pet that died.

5. Read age-appropriate children’s books that deal with pet death. There are many options, including the classic Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant; the tender and touching Murphy and Kate by Ellen Howard; and I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm.

6. Let your child know it’s okay to talk about death and about the pet. If the mention of death makes you upset, your child may avoid the topic and hold his feelings in. Let your child know death is a part of life and that it’s okay to talk about it. Let him know he can talk about his beloved pet, and share your favorite happy memories of the pet with him.

7. Seek outside help if your child has a hard time coping. If your child is already dealing with stress such as divorce, a parent’s illness, difficulties at school, or a conflict with a close friend or sibling, the death of a pet can bring on a crisis, Sife says. A counselor, psychologist, or therapist may be able to help.

The stress of losing a pet and seeing your child so upset might make you wonder if a pet is worth the inevitable grief. But the process of grieving strengthens families, Segal says. “When something happens and we get through it, trust is built,” she says. “We shouldn’t take away the pain in life…the more your child feels, the better life will be. The more we feel, the more meaning we find in life.”

Dealing With a Pet’s Death for Kids of Different Ages

Children respond to death differently depending on their age. Here are some general ways children of different ages may react to a pet’s death, according to Wallace Sife, author of The Loss of a Pet and founder of theAssociation for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

  • Ages 2-3: At this age, children do not have the life experiences to give them an understanding of death. They should be told that the pet has died and will not return. Reassure your child that he did not do or say anything to cause the pet’s death. Maintain usual routines, and most young children will accept the loss without a lot of emotion.
  • Ages 4-6: Children have some understanding of death but may not comprehend the permanence of it. They may even think the pet is asleep or is continuing to eat, breathe, and play somewhere. Frequent, brief discussions about the pet’s death will allow your child to express her feelings and ask questions.
  • Ages 7-9: At this age, children know death is irreversible. They might not be afraid that they will die, but they may worry about the death of their parents. Your child may ask questions that seem morbid, which parents should answer with honesty. Their grief may manifest itself in misbehavior or antisocial behavior at school.
  • Ages 10-12: Children understand that death is natural, inevitable, and happens to all living things. They look to their parents as role models in how to react to death. At this age, children may cry a lot and need lots of comforting.
  • Teenagers: Children of this age group may show anything from an apparent total lack of concern to excessively emotional reactions. One day they want to be treated like an adult, and the next day they need to be reassured like a young child. If friends are supportive, it is much easier for them to deal with a loss.
  • Young adults: The loss of a pet for this age group can be particularly hard. Young adults may have feelings of guilt for abandoning their pets when leaving home for college, work, or marriage, and may be unable to return to the family home to say goodbye to the pet. Again, supportive friends and coworkers may help, as will allowing the individual to discuss and remember the pet with family members.

Source

Activities

I Miss My Pet: A workbook for children about pet loss

My Pet is Gone

My Pet Died: A Coloring Book for Grieving Children $2.00

Books That Help Kids Cope

  1. I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm. A boy and his pet dachshund grow up together, but one morning the dog doesn’t wake up. This tender book will touch any family who’s ever had to say goodbye to an old dog.
  2. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst. After a little boy’s cat dies, the family plans a funeral, and the boy is asked to recall ten good things about his pet.
  3. When a Pet Dies, by Fred Rogers. This direct but sensitive book includes color photos of kids and encourages children to share their feelings of loss.Source