Friday, July 2, 2021

Children and Teens in Grief: Suggested Resources

[Reviewed and updated November 3, 2023]

Given their limited experience with loss, your children may be surprised or embarrassed by the intensity of their grief when a death happens, and they may try to hide it or disguise it. Your best approach is to watch and listen – to tune into your children, to be there for them, and if you’re unsure what’s going on with them, to ask! What else can you do to help them?
• Offer physical closeness, comfort and reassurance.

• Look through photograph albums together.

• Talk about special memories and their relationship with the deceased.

• Read some of the wonderful and readily available children’s books on grief.

• Acknowledge and normalize whatever your child may be feeling.

• Talk about your family’s faith tradition about life, death and the afterlife.

• Be patient with their repetitious questioning (which is normal) and be available to listen.

As suggested in a previous post, one of the most effective ways to help children understand their own grief reactions (as well as those of the people around them) is to tell them a story. And one of the simplest ways to do that is by reading together some of the many wonderful children's books now available on loss, dying, death and grief. In addition, there are many outstanding books to guide parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers and others in comforting and supporting grieving children.

Books for Grieving Children and Those Who Love Them

Most of the following titles can be found in the children’s section of the public library, or can be ordered online or from local bookstores. Because I own and have read each of these books myself, I am comfortable recommending them. Still, before you decide on any book, I suggest that you review it yourself first, to see that it matches your child's developmental level and experience, and to make sure that it fits with your own personal beliefs and value system.

Clicking on the titles listed will take you to Amazon’s description and reviews of each, or you can consult your librarian or bookseller for more information.

• After a Parent's Suicide: Helping Children Heal

• Angel Catcher for Kids: A Journal to Help You Remember the Person Who Died

• Baseball Forever: A Boy's Book on Grief, Loss and Healing

• Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children

• Finding Your Own Way to Grieve: A Creative Activity Workbook for Kids and Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Grieving for The Sibling You Lost: A Teen's Guide to Coping with Grief and Finding Meaning After Loss

Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups

• How Do We Tell the Children? Step-by-Step Guide for Helping Children Cope When Someone Dies

I Miss You: A First Look at Death

It Must Hurt a Lot: A Child’s Book About Death

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children

• Logan's First Funeral

 My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon

• Never The Same: Coming to Terms With the Death of a Parent

Never Too Young to Know: Death in Children’s Lives

Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss

• Scarlet Says Goodbye

• Someone I Love Died from a Drug Overdose

• Talking about Death: A Dialogue between Parent and Child

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss

• Tell Me, Papa: Answers to Questions Children Ask about Death and Dying

 The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions

• The Copper Tree

• The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages

 The Funeral

• The Heart and The Bottle

• The Invisible String

• The Journey through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief Is Shared

• The Memory Box: A Book About Grief

The Saddest Time

• You Are Not Alone: Stories by Young Teens Who Have Experienced the Death of a Sibling

We LOVE Each Other: a Healing Journal for Grieving Children

• Weird Is Normal When Teenagers Grieve

  When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens about Grieving and Healing

• When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving and Other Losses

What Happens When Someone Dies?: A Child's Guide to Death and Funerals

• What Is Cancer, Anyway? Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages

• When Someone Dies: A Child-Caregiver Activity Book

• Where Did My Friend Go? Helping Children Cope with A Traumatic Death

Internet Resources

(If you know of any additional resources you'd like to see added to this list, please let me know in the Comments section below.)

Boxed Up Project: Helping Kids Unpack Their Grief

• Center for Grieving Children

• Children and Grief Resources from Hospice Foundation of America

• Child, Adolescent Grief Links

• Children’s Grief and Loss Issues

• Coalition to Support Grieving Students

• The Compassionate Friends

• Dougy Center for Grieving Children

• Kids Grief

• National Alliance for Grieving Children

• National Students of AMF App for Grieving Young Adults

• National Students of AMF Support Network for College Students

National Students of AMF Facebook Page for College Students

• National Students of AMF Facebook Group for College Students

• New Song Center for Grieving Children

• Parenting: Difficult Conversations: NPR

• Rainbows: Guiding Kids through Life’s Storms

• Sesame Street: Helping Kids Grieve

• SLAP'D: Surviving Life After A Parent Dies

• Sounds of the Siblings

• Stepping Stones of Hope

• Support and Training for Adults Nurturing Grieving Children

• Talkspace for Teens

• Teen Grief Support

• The Moyer Foundation

• Too Damn Young

Always remember: It’s all right if you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes there just aren’t any satisfactory answers, but it’s still important to discuss the questions. Children need parents to puzzle with them about such matters.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing Newsletter. Sign up here


Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay
© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH  

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