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How To Help Children Cope With Grief

How To Help Children Cope With Grief

While school teaches many things, there are very few opportunities for a child to learn about their emotions and how to deal with them in their academic studies. As children grow up, they will inevitably encounter many scenarios that bring them joy, but also some that bring them sorrow.

This could come in the form of something a little less severe – like a broken toy or losing a competition – but there will unfortunately also be times when they have to bear with something bigger and more complex, like the passing of a loved one.

While grief is a natural response to loss, it can be a difficult and confusing experience for younger ones to navigate. When it comes to the death of a pet or a figure of importance in their lives, it is crucial for the guardians to identify, support and address it.

According to the Children’s Grief Awareness Day website, nearly 8% of children in the U.S. will suffer the loss of a sibling or parent by the time they’re 18. It is believed that those 3 years old and below won’t have the cognitive development yet to comprehend the impact, and thus can be protected from the effects of grief, but guardians should look out to observe and render support to those older than that.


Signs And Symptoms Of Grief

While grief is experienced differently across individuals due to their temperament, environment, culture and age, there are some signs that are worth looking out for that indicate serious signs of grief and an inability to cope with it.

They are:

    • an extended period of depression in which they lose interest in school, daily activities and events – even those they usually enjoy.
    • withdrawing from friends and family members.
    • an inability to sleep or eat well.
    • prolonged fear of being alone.
    • regressing much younger than their age for an extended period.
    • blaming themselves for the passing or stating they wish to join them.
    • excessively imitating the dead person in behaviour or speech.
    • believing they are talking to or seeing the deceased for an extended period of time.
    • sharp drop in school performance.


How To Approach And Support The Child

Helping children cope with grief requires patience and compassion. understanding their unique developmental needs and providing them with emotional support. In this article, we will provide expert advice on how to support children as they navigate the grieving process.


Validate Their Feelings

One of the most important things you can do to help is to validate their feelings. Often guardians protect their wards by shielding them from negativity or avoiding it altogether, but by allowing the children to experience a range of emotions without judgement, we create a space for them to talk and process it with supervision. Let them know that it is okay to feel sad and that you are there to support them in their preferred way and time.


Encourage Them To Express Their Feelings

This needn’t necessarily be verbal. Encourage children to express their feelings through art, play, or other forms that they like or are familiar with, as these indirect forms can sometimes tackle the intangible bits that cannot be expressed through words. Adults often find catharsis the same way and so we can let children do so with some prompts from us.


Keeping To Routine And Structure

There is comfort in routine and structure, and some children will appreciate you holding them to it to a certain degree. Maintaining this regular schedule can provide a sense of stability during a time of uncertainty and change, and it can take the forms of regular bedtimes, meal times, or other daily chores and activities. Make it easy to follow and even a little mundane as it allows their minds to ease into it more easily.


Broach The Subject

Children will have questions about death and the grieving process. It is important for the guardian to answer their questions truthfully, clearly, and patiently. Encourage them to ask questions when the timing seems right and let them know that it is okay to be curious and seek answers by being open about the topic. You can use these opportunities to introduce coping skills with suggestions like picking up physical activities or sharing more with those they feel comfortable with. You can also take this time to reassure the child with reminders that they are not abandoned or forgotten after the loss of a loved one, and that they are loved and supported. Also remind them that the deceased will always be remembered and that their love will continue to honour them after they are gone.


Provide Space For Their Own Memorialisation

Funerals can be very adult-oriented with its rites and rituals so it can be a good idea to allow the child to have their own memorialisation. This can help them feel connected to their loved one and provide a sense of closure with a tribute in their style. This can be planting something new, creating a memory chest or album, or creating a small space for the child to offer flowers to the deceased at any time they wish.


Seek Support For Yourself

Don’t forget about your own grief. Caring for a grieving child can be emotionally challenging, so do take a step back and evaluate your own thresholds and inward conditions from time to time.



Supporting a child and their grief requires a supportive and compassionate approach. By reminding yourself of the above, you can help a child navigate their grief and find a comfortable path towards healing for them. Because every child is unique and will grieve in their own way and at their own pace, we must always keep an open space for communication and provide support for when they are expressing it to allow them to move forward healthily.


Coping with grief is a complex process and if you ever need assistance, Memorial Funeral can provide resources to support you in any end-of-life matters.



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    Funeral Service Singapore

    24 hours hotline:

    +65 8866 3326

    22 Sin Ming Lane
    #06-76 , Midview City
    Singapore 573969

    Memorial Funeral Logo White Footer

    Funeral Service Singapore

    24 hours hotline:

    +65 8866 3326

    22 Sin Ming Lane
    #06-76 , Midview City
    Singapore 573969

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