Children and Grief and Loss

Children and Grief and Loss

Consider the individual child and their age when providing help

As we outline in this section there are resources that can help support children and teenagers in their grief. These could be for parents, teachers, carers and families.

Children grieve in a different way from adults. Grief will affect each child or teenager differently. Their behaviour may change; they may need support or someone to talk to. Each of them will take in information in different ways. This will depend on the child or teenager. It will depend on their age, and their emotional maturity and how they are told of the death. It will also depend on who has died, how they died, and the child’s relationship with them. A child or teenager's reaction to the news can help to determine how they will go forward.

What a child understands will vary with their age, having resources for their age group is important.

  • Under the age of five years, children often find it difficult to understand that death is final and for ever. They may want to talk about what has happened. They may want to know how the person is now feeling e.g. are they hungry, are they sad?
  • School aged children, 6-12 years of age, understand that death is final. This may make them fearful of death. Using language that is clear and simple is important. Explaining why they died will reassure them that it wasn’t because of something they or someone else said or did.

Tips for helping children at any age

Raising Children, the Australian parenting website, suggests ways to help children of all ages following the death of someone they knew including:

  • keep to a routine
  • let children know that it’s OK to play, be happy and have fun
  • telling teachers or caregivers what has happened so that they can support children
  • talking with children about death in a way that reflects your family’s personal or spiritual beliefs, or your child’s experiences.

Page created 18 November 2021