Illness, Grief, and Loss

Just like us, our kids or teens are shocked, scared, and saddened by the loss of someone they love. They’re confused. Their world has been tipped upside-down. Parents can help with guidance, emotional support, and hugs.

Signs that a kid or teen is grieving:

  • A child feels guilty, or wants to die
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Hostility, aggressiveness, “acting out”
  • Grades suffer
  • Depression

Some parenting tips:

  • Tell them the truth, as simply as possible. If you need to, talk about terminal illness.
  • Don’t confuse them. “going to sleep” and “gone away” are not the same as dying. Kids might expect the person who died to come back, or they might be afraid that if they go to sleep, they’d die too.
  • Explain that death is final.
  • Share the experience. Allow children to attend a funeral if they want to, but don’t force them. Let them know what to expect in advance, and be ready to answer their questions.
  • Face the grief. Let kids and teens cry – it encourages healing.
  • Reassure them. Hug or kiss your kids often, or just hold them.
  • Let them know that you or someone who loves them will always be there for them.

Encourage kids and teens to express their grief

  • by writing letters, songs, or
  • by drawing pictures to say good-bye.

 Remember this:

  • Don’t neglect your child’s emotional needs even when you, too, are grieving. It helps both of you to grieve together, to be sad together, and to remember the good stuff together.
  • You’re not alone. Look for a grief support group. Connect with friends, relatives, teachers, clergy, or counselors.

Suggested Readings For Parents and Children:

  1. Helping Children Cope With The Loss Of A Loved One – A Guide For Grown-Ups (Book for Parents)
  2. Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss (Book for Parents)
  3. When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn To Cope With Grief (Book for Kids)
  4. The Saddest Time (Book For Kids)
  5. What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies (Book for Kids)
  6. Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good Grief Guidebook For Kids Dealing With Loss (Book for Kids)
  7. Gentle Willow-A Story For Children About Dying (Book for Kids)
  8. Our Dad Died: The True Story Of Three Kids Whose Lives Changed (Book for Teens)
  9. Helping Teens Cope With Death (Book for Parents and Teens)
  10. Healing Your Grieving Heart For Teens: 100 Practical Ideas (Book for Teens)
  11. Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers (Book for Teens)
  12. The Grieving Teen: A Guide for Teenagers & Their Friends (Book for Teens)
  13. When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Grieving and Healing (Book for Teens)
  14. Family Has Cancer (Book for Kids)
  15. Once Upon A Hopeful Night: A Resource For Children Whose Parents Have Cancer (Book for Kids)
  16. Mommy Has Cancer (Book for Kids)
  17. Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-Tankerous Mommy (Book for Kids)