How To Help A Child Who Is Grieving A Loved One

If your child has recently lost a loved one, here are some things you can do to help them cope in the coming days, weeks or even months:

Recently my eldest daughter lost her beloved grandad very suddenly, a man who has helped raise her, a man who showed love and compassion in everything he did with her.

She idolised him so as you can imagine, she was devastated when we broke the news to her, and two months later, we are still dealing with the aftermath while trying to support her in every way.

At a school-going age, children tend to understand that death is final and may experience a variety of emotions, each and every child is unique and will cope with death in their own way. Some may show anger, and some might complain of stomach discomfort while others express signs of anxiety or distress. In some cases, children don't react at all. 

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula when it comes to helping grieving children with loss, however, if your child has recently lost a loved one, here are some things you can do to help them cope in the coming days, weeks or even months:

How to help a child who is grieving a loved one.

  1. Use simple language around death.

    When sharing difficult news with children about the death of a loved one, it is important to use simple and clear age-appropriate words and to give your child time to process the information.

  2. Give them time to ask questions and feel their feelings.

    Acknowledge their feelings, comfort them and reassure them that it was not their fault while giving them time to open up. They may want to ask all sort of questions, and while some may cry, others might not react at all, and that's okay. 

  3. Tell your child what they can expect over the coming days or even weeks.

    For example, you might need to stay in your parent's house for a day or two to help organise the funeral or relatives may need to come to stay in their house for a few days.

  4. Talk about the funeral and burial or cremation.

    If it is their first memorial service, they may have some fears or worries, so it's essential you tell your child what will happen. Rather than talking about it as a service to say goodbye, talk about it as if its a celebration of life. 

  5. Give your child time to heal.

    Grief is a long process, and everyone deals with it differently. Some children may have trouble sleeping and concentrating while others may lash out, rebel or show signs of anxiety. Be patient. Explain to them that it takes time to feel better after losing a loved one.

  6. Let them find comfort.

    Some children find comfort in carrying photos of the loved one or by keeping a piece of clothing, a special toy or another item associated with the deceased nearby. Don't be afraid to talk about the person, share funny stories and memories together. 

Some children experience difficulties when faced with grief and may need professional help following the death of a loved one. If you think your child is not coping well have a chat with your GP, who may recommend therapy which will give your child an opportunity to talk through their emotions in a safe, non-judgemental environment. 


Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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