When a child suffers through loss, it is a particular kind of grief. Children do not understand death in the way we do and their ways of processing and coping with the death of a loved one will vary greatly according to their age, experiences and relationships. In order to support children at this time it is helpful to get advice from experts so that we can offer the best possible support.
There are a number of professionals and agencies worldwide, committed to helping children and families who have lost a loved one. Some of the resources below may help to open up discussion and assist in healing.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement offers specific guidance for supporting grieving children and adolescents.
UK based Childhood Bereavement Network suggests practical ways that friends, family, teachers and schools can help a child grieving the death of a loved one.
The Dougy Center, addresses such things as how to talk to children about death, suicide and other tragic events and suggests activities that can help children to process their feelings.
Grief in Children, A Handbook for Adults by Atle Dyregrov combines years of clinical experience with the latest research to produce a guide which looks at:
- Children's understanding of death at different ages and how this effects their reactions to death
- Different types of death including parent, siblings, friend and suicide
- What makes the grief worse
- Caring for children in grief and crisis at home, at childcare or at school.
- Therapy and when to seek it out
The Grief Book - Strategies For Young People by Elizabeth Vercoe, is a compassionate guide written especially for teenagers and young adults. It provides coping strategies and offers hope, inspiration and empathy.
Books for children
The following books, which can be read aloud to young children, offer an opportunity to address death and the feelings associated with bereavement.
Granddad's Ashes Walter Smith
Always and Forever Alan Durant
Granpa John Birmingham
Badger's Parting Gifts Susan Varley
When Dinosaur's Die: A Guide to Understanding Death Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
Michael Rosen's Sad Book Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Quentin Blake
The Day the Sea went Out and Never Came Back Margot Sunderland