Children and Grief

The death of your baby has touched you and it has affected your children. Children often don’t understand death.  Depending on the child’s age, they may think the baby will come back or has gone some where for a short time but will return.  Your children, depending on their age, need to learn about death. It is natural to want to protect your children from the sadness, but your pain and feelings about the experience can not be hidden.  The best thing to do for your child is tell them the truth in a simple and honest way.  You should not tell them that your baby is “sleeping” “on a trip” or “lost” as way to explain death. These things give the wrong impression and may scare and confuse your child.  However, you don’t want to give details that are hard for the child to understand. You can help them understand the death by talking about other family members or pets who may have died or the way a flower wilts and fades away. Many times children are curious about it and may ask questions or want to talk about again and again.  You may find your child acting it out in their play time.

Children from 5 to 9 may understand death as something that is final, but don’t believe it happens to everybody. Children 9 and older are able to accept the inevitability of death.

Suggestions to help your children grieve the loss of their sibling.

  • Allow them, if you and they are comfortable doing so, to hold the baby
  • Encourage them to draw a picture or write something for the baby
  • Plant a tree or garden in memory of the baby
  • Have the children help in picking out the urn or casket
  • Allow them to pick out the outfit the baby will be buried in
  • Allow them to place one of their special toys with the baby
  • If the children are old enough, encourage them to participate in the memorial service by reading a special poem or scripture
  • You may want to give out bubbles to those who attend the memorial, with a special note that may say something like this “When you blow these bubbles think our sweet baby.”

Websites

Focus on the Family

The Dougy Center: National Center for Grieving Children and Families

 

Blogs

When Children Grieve

 

Books

Kroen, William C., Ph.D., LMHC, Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A guide for grownups. (Minneappolis, MN: Freespirit Publishing, 1996.)

The Dougy Center, What About the Kids? Understanding their Needs in Funeral Planning and Services. (1999)

The Dougy Center, 35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child. (2000)

Poust, Mary DeTurris, Parenting a Grieving Child: Helping Children Find Faith, Hope, and Healing After the Loss of a Loved One. (Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2002.)

 

Sound Journeys Perinatal Hospice
1316-B Wynnton Court
Columbus, Georgia 31906
(706) 304-5029