Helping Kids with Grief and Loss: A Parent’s Guide

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A few months ago my husband’s Grandmother, my kid’s GiGi, passed away at the age of 91. While we were saddened by her passing, I think what hurt me the most was knowing my young children wouldn’t be able to understand. My kids adored their GiGi and visited with her quite frequently at her retirement home. She was put on hospice about a week before she passed away, and during that time I began researching and putting together resources I thought might help my young children (my kids are 2 and 6 years old) cope with a big loss. My sister, who is a mental health counselor, gave me a good starting point with books she recommended and it went from there. My husband and I have used many of these resources with our kids as they heal and grow. I hope you can find them useful for your family too! 

the loss of our Gigi was really hard
GiGi and her great grandkids

Recommended books: 

  1. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst 
  2. The Memory Box: A Book about Grief by Joanna Rowland
  3. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs by Susan Schaefer Bernardo 
  4. The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
  5.  Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomia  dePaola
  6. Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Charles Santosa

Recommended Movies and TV shows: 

  1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Blue Fish is Dead 
  2. Big Hero 6 (recommended for kids 7+ years old) 
  3. Coco (recommended for kids 5+ years old)
  4. Sesame Street: When Families Grieve 

Recommended Activities: 

  1. Balloon release or butterfly release (to be more environmentally friendly)
  2. Plant a tree in honor of loved one
  3. Collect money and donate to a cause in honor of loved one
  4.  Make a memory box and talk about all of the good memories you had with loved one. 
  5. Celebrate your loved one on their birthday each year.

Recommended Resources for Parents:

  1. https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/grief/
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201612/the-dos-and-donts-talking-child-about-death
  3. https://childrengrieve.org/resources/10-ways-to-help-a-grieving-child
  4. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Grief-008.aspx
  5. https://childmind.org/article/helping-children-deal-grief/

Death and grief are hard for us as adults to deal with and even harder for little kids to understand. While not easy to understand, death is a part of life that we all eventually will have to deal with in our families. I’m thankful for all of the wonderful resources out there for children and families. 

*I am not a mental health counselor or therapist. 

 

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Erin
Erin grew up just outside of Nashville, but has been in the Memphis area for 10 years now. She’s a former middle school language arts teacher turned C.O.O. of the Lewis home (according to her hubs). She’s Mama to Livy (2013), who loves to sing, play soccer, and has a disability, and Will (2017) who loves dogs, fire trucks and is a bit destructive, and wife to Chris (her college sweetheart) who is a pharmacist. Between volunteering herself to be the room mom (face palm), driving Livy to zillions of therapies, and keeping Will from destroying everything, life is busy. Erin loves the beach, a good IPA, Target vacas by herself, and anything Harry Potter related (she ships Dramione!). She hates high heels, rude people that stare at cute kids in wheelchairs, and bad tippers.