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Nurturing tender hearts:
A compassionate guide to helping children cope with grief

Published September 2023

In the face of loss and grief children often find themselves grappling with emotions that they may struggle to comprehend or express. As caring adults, it is our responsibility to provide them with the support and guidance they need to navigate the challenging journey of grief. In this blog, we will explore effective strategies and practical tips to help children process their grief in a healthy and healing manner.

 

1. Open and Honest Communication:

When it comes to discussing grief with children, open and honest communication in an age appropriate way is the  key. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their emotions without judgment or fear. Encourage them to ask questions and be prepared to answer them in an age-appropriate manner. Remember, it's okay to admit if you don't have all the answers – sometimes simply being there to listen is enough.

Image by Kelly Sikkema

2. Validate Their Feelings:

Grief can elicit a wide range of emotions in children, such as sadness, anger, confusion, and even guilt. It is crucial to validate their feelings and let them know that it is normal to experience such emotions during this challenging time. Assure them that their feelings are valid and that they are not alone in their pain.

 

3. Maintain Routines and Stability:

Children thrive on routines and stability, especially during times of grief. Keeping their daily routines as consistent as possible can offer a sense of security and normalcy amidst the chaos. However, be flexible and understanding if they need occasional breaks or adjustments during particularly difficult moments.

4. Encourage Healthy Expression:

Children may express their grief in various ways, such as through play, art, or storytelling. Encourage them to find healthy outlets for their emotions, allowing them to express themselves in ways that feel natural to them. Engaging in activities like drawing, writing, or even playing with puppets can help them process their emotions and find comfort in self-expression.

 

5. Be a Role Model:

Children often learn by observing the behavior of those around them. As an adult, you play a vital role in guiding them through their grief. Show them healthy coping mechanisms by taking care of your own emotional well-being. This might involve seeking support from friends, family, or NALAG  and engaging in self-care activities that promote healing.

6. Memorialise and Honour Loved Ones:

Encouraging children to memorialise and honour their loved ones can provide a sense of closure and help foster positive memories. This can be done through activities such as creating memory boxes, planting a tree or flowers in their memory, or even organising a small ceremony or gathering to share stories and celebrate the life of the person they lost. See the printable Remembrance Tree craft activity above.

 

Supporting children through grief requires a delicate balance of empathy, patience, and understanding. By creating a nurturing environment where their emotions are acknowledged and validated, we can help children navigate the complexities of grief and learn to heal and grow from their experiences. Remember, every child grieves differently, so adapt your approach to suit their unique needs, and above all, be a source of unwavering love and support.

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Trudy Hanson OAM 
NALAG NSW


Published September 2023

Family Craft Activity:
Make your own special Remembrance Tree

RemembranceTree_Craft2.png
RemembranceTree_Craft1.png
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