LISTEN – with your ears, eyes
TOUCH – it often says “I
know what happened and I care. I am here if you need me.”
Face your own feelings of loss and
grief. Share them if you like.
Be open and honest with feelings. Create
an atmosphere of open acceptance that invites questions and fosters
confidence and love.
Encourage expressions of grief. Talking,
writing, painting, yelling, etc.
Provide appropriate places to express
Acknowledge the reality that grief
Do not attempt to rescue them from
the hurt. It is necessary to work THROUGH the grief.
Temper your expectations with kindness
and understanding. Continue to expect him to function.
Respect a child’s need to grieve.
Almost anything can trigger grief.
Understand that priorities change.
What you think is important may not be considered by the child as
Realize that grief causes difficulty
in concentrating. Children often experience a shortened attention
span. Schoolwork is often affected.
Do not isolate or insulate children
from grief. Grief is a NORMAL and NATURAL REACTION TO LOSS (of any
Understand that other losses often
accompany the identified loss. A change in residence, caretaker, school
or peer group all add to the grief experienced.
Loss of trust often compounds grief.
Provide a quiet, private place to come
to whenever the child needs to be alone.
Try not to single out the grieving
child for special privileges or compensations. He still needs to feel
a part of his peer group and should be expected to function accordingly.
Set realistic goals with the child
concerning his behavior, school performance and homework. Help the
child create his own routines if necessary.
Help the child find a supportive peer
Help the child’s friend’s
learn to be supportive.
Become part of a caring team by establishing
lines of communications with everyone involved with the child. Keep
each other informed about the child’s progress.
Understand that grieving children
are often “busy” with the tasks of establishing a new
identity. “WHO AM I NOW?” becomes a major concern.
Family roles may change, as well as
identities. This self-search often overshadows all the other concerns
for many weeks and months.
Know that grief lasts for longer than
ANYONE expects. It may take months or even years before a child displays
sign of the full impact of a family change.
Maintain a daily routine if at all
possible. Continuity becomes a safety net for grieving children. The
continuity of attending school daily, being required to perform certain
tasks in or out of school, and having to social routine provides children
with some security and sense of stability in a topsy turvey world.
Have resources [books, videos, support
group information, resource list] available about grief, loss and
- Understand that children and young
people will continue to deal with the losses/changes they experience
as they grow and mature. They will NOT GET OVER IT, but they can lean
to GROW THROUGH the grief and discover that LOVE NEVER GOES AWAY.