When Children Grieve: Helping Children Deal with Loss

A Study Group for Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses

There are many myths about dealing with sad emotions that confuse children:

  • Time heals all wounds
  • Replace the loss
  • Cry alone
  • Be strong for others
  • Bury your feelings
  • Don’t feel bad, have a cookie, you’ll feel better…

In this 6-week program you will learn how to replace these myths with practical guidance for your children. The book, When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses, by Grief Recovery Institute founders John W. James, Russell Friedman, and Leslie Matthews serves as the basis for this program. The book is available on Amazon, and can be read by anyone looking to help children deal with loss, independently of any program.


Some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Listen with your heart, not your head. Allow all emotions to be expressed, without judgment, criticism, or analysis. 
  2. Recognize that grief is emotional, not intellectual. Avoid the trap of asking your child what is wrong, for he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”
  3. Adults –Go first. Telling the truth about your own sadness will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.
  4. Remember that every child is unique and each has a unique relationship to the loss event. Siblings may have very different reactions to the same loss.
  5. Be patient. Don’t force your child to talk.
  6. Never say “Don’t feel sad” or “Don’t feel scared.” Sadness and fear, the two most common feelings attached to loss of any kind, are essential to​ being human.