Helping Children with Loss 

Learn how to help the children in your care cope with loss and bereavement 

Helping Children with Loss

How can bereavement affect a child? 

On average, most children will encounter 15 significant losses before they reach adulthood. The most common losses for children and teenagers include: 
 
Loss of a grandparent 
Loss of a pet 
Moving 
Divorce 
Changing schools 
Bullying 
Having a close friend move away 
Being rejected from their university of choice 
 
As a parent, teacher, or professional who works with children, you have undoubtedly experienced that sinking feeling that occurs when children ask difficult questions about death and loss, or are experiencing sad and painful feelings. You may even have memories of how you felt as a child when your feelings were not acknowledged or understood. 
Often we are left struggling for the right words, not least because we ourselves don't know what to do either. We may think we need to teach our children how to "look on the bright side" or we try to distract them with a gift or a treat. 
 
Children may allow themselves to be distracted for a time, but the grief does not go away. It often manifests in other areas, causing serious problems in school and at home. 
 
Here are just a few of the behaviours that can be the result of unresolved or unacknowledged grief: 
 
Difficulty concentrating 
Reduced participation or interest in class 
Angry outbursts, violence 
Trouble sleeping, nightmares 
Frequent absence from school 
 
The way we support children in their grief is vital to their further development and overall wellbeing. 

How do you help a grieving child? 

We know how difficult it can be to find the right words to comfort a child. We don't want to say the wrong thing, but we also want to connect with the child and offer our support. Finding this balance is challenging if you don't have the right tools for the job. 
 
Well-meaning adults often try to comfort children by saying things like: 
 
Don't cry, he wouldn't want you to be sad. 
Look on the bright side. 
We'll just get you a new dog/cat/stuffed animal. 
Think of all the friends you'll make at your new school! 
Don't worry, I'm sure she'll get better soon. 
There are plenty of other fish in the sea. 
It could always be worse. 
Don't be scared, it will be fine. 
Now you'll get to have two birthday parties, one at your Mum's and one at Dad's! 
Unfortunately, these well-intentioned statements often make the problem worse. The child may stop crying to please you, but in turn receives the message that it's not okay to grieve.  
 
Wouldn't it be nice to know what to say or do when a child comes to you for comfort? Imagine knowing the right words and actions to take with a child is grieving a loss! 

Learn how to support children and teenagers with loss and bereavement 

Our "Helping Children with Loss" programme provides parents, teachers and anyone who works with children with the specific tools for helping a child of any age and/or ability level with a personal loss of any kind. 
 
After completion of this course, participants will have the confidence and the ability to communicate effectively with children and teenagers on the topics of grief and loss, as well as specific tools for helping a young person recover from bereavement. 
 
Its techniques have been adapted for children using the evidence-based Grief Recovery Method, which has been successful at helping thousands of grievers all over the world heal from the pain of personal loss for over three decades. The programme is ACEs informed and was created with the awareness that adverse childhood events can have a permanent impact on a person's wellbeing. 
How to help a grieving child

Helping Children with Loss programmes 

The Helping Children with Loss programme is a course for adults led by a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist in your area or in an online setting. 
 
Both programmes use When Children Grieve by John W. James and Russell Friedman as the textbook and cover the myths of grief, techniques for speaking with children and teenagers about sad feelings, and action steps for dealing with personal losses. 
 
Schools can inquire about a Helping Children with Loss course on site or online for a group of staff; parents can book a course for themselves and connect with others who are looking to improve the way they support their children with loss. 
You can also contact us or email schools@griefuk.org to inquire about training programmes for your school or to find an available Specialist. 
Helping Children with Loss and Bereavement Helping Children with Loss and Grief

Videos 

Videos 

Primary School Head Teacher and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist Deb Brown talks about how the Helping Children With Loss programme differs from other programmes and the effect it has had on her school 
Head Teacher Fiona Hartley describes her results with the Helping Children with Loss programme with Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist Jill Frampton 
Managing Director of Grief UK Carole Henderson sits down with Tes for a webinar on supporting children who are grieving 
Primary School Head Teacher and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist Deb Brown talks about how the Helping Children With Loss programme differs from other programmes and the effect it has had on her school 
Head Teacher Fiona Hartley describes her results with the Helping Children with Loss programme with Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist Jill Frampton 
Managing Director of Grief UK Carole Henderson sits down with Tes for a webinar on supporting children who are grieving 

Articles 

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