Children in Grief

Funerals and death is possibly the most difficult event for children to understand and respond to. Nothing has prepared them for it, and depending on their age and stage of conceptual development it may be literally impossible to take in.

Each child will grieve differently, at different times and in different ways. Often the reality (and permanence) of the death isn’t realised until the child develops and grows older. It is not unusual – as an example – for a three year old to appear to take a death ‘in their stride’ and then some years later show signs of grief when they come to understand concepts such as time and ‘forever’.

As adults we can assist young ones by speaking simply, openly and factually about the issues. Giving them permission to ask questions and explaining what is going on puts a secure boundary around their imagination. Give them things to do like making a memory box or memory garden. Allow them to share your feelings as well as share their own so they learn that they are normal.

Also join them in reading or looking at picture books which cover the topics. There are many beautifully illustrated and sensitively written books we would recommend that could be shared with children even before they experience the death of someone they are close to. As with any life experience, if we can discuss death and learn about it before being confronted with its reality we are much better equipped, and can experience less anxiety and fear.

Howard Squires Funerals Directors are pleased to offer you a list of recommended reading for young children on loss and grief under the Books and Recommended Reading link. 

Child in Grief - Understanding Children’s Grief: An Overview

When kids face a loss, they feel grief differently than grown-ups do. It depends a lot on how old they are. Little kids might not really understand what being gone forever means. As they get older, they start figuring it out more, but it can still be quite challenging for them to handle their feelings. It’s important for us to know this so we can help them in the best way.

How Children React to Grief at Different Ages

Every child deals with grief uniquely. Little ones, like toddlers, might feel sad but do not really know why. Kids in preschool might ask a lot of questions about what death means. They understand it once they’re in school and might show their feelings more clearly. Teenagers get it much like we do but might want to deal with their emotions alone.

Supporting Children Through Grief

Helping a sad child means talking to them and letting them know it’s okay to feel whatever they feel. They can make a special box with memories or plant a garden to remember the person they lost. It’s also good to keep their daily life as normal as possible to help them feel safe.

The Role of Rituals and Funerals in Children’s Grieving Process

Being part of funerals and other goodbye rituals can help kids when grieving. These ceremonies help them understand what saying goodbye means and help them feel like they have closure. Let them join in ways that are right for their age, like picking a song or making a drawing for the service.

Books and Resources to Help Children Understand Death and Grief

Books are a gentle way to help kids learn about and deal with loss. They can read about what they’re feeling and safely ask questions. We recommend some excellent books written and illustrated in a sensitive way that are suitable for kids who have lost someone close to them.

Navigating Difficult Questions About Death with Children

Kids are curious and might ask hard questions about death. It’s essential to answer these questions truthfully, but in a way they can understand. Keep your explanations simple and straightforward, and be patient with them.

Creating a Supportive Environment for Grieving Children

Making a caring and supportive space is essential for kids dealing with grief. Listen to them, let them talk about how they feel, and try to keep their everyday life as normal as possible. Keep an eye out for signs that they’re struggling a lot, and be ready to get help from a professional if needed.

Professional Support for Children in Grief

Sometimes, kids need a little extra help to get through their grief. Professional counsellors or psychologists who know much about helping grieving kids can be really helpful. Here at Howard Squires Funerals, we can put you in touch with professionals who are really good at helping kids in a kind and understanding way.

Remembering and Honouring Loved Ones: Activities for Children

Doing things to remember and honour someone they’ve lost can benefit kids. Making a photo album, writing letters to the person who died, or being part of a memorial service can help them work through their sadness. These activities give kids a way to express their feelings and keep the memories of their loved ones alive.

Contact Us for Guidance and Support

If you need help or advice in supporting a child through their grief, please get in touch with us at Howard Squires Funerals. Our team is here to offer kind and understanding advice, give you support, and connect you with experts who specialise in helping children with grief. We’re here to support you and your family during this challenging time.