|They don’t understand what has happened; they’re too young.||Even the very young know when those around them are upset. Most understand more than adults realize.|
|Going to the funeral would just upset them.||Not being included in family rituals could be more upsetting.
It helps to see how adults grieve.
|I must protect them from loss and pain.||All children do experience losses and need help learning ways to deal with them.|
|Children don’t feel grief the same as adults.||Everyone grieves in their own way, depending on the circumstances, development level and life experiences.
This is usual and healthy.
|When they have grieved once, it should be over.||As they develop, children must re-grieve losses in light of new understanding and abilities.|
|I won’t say or do the right thing; I must be in control to talk to them.||There are no right answers, only honest ones.
Saying something acknowledges their grief, dispels fears and misunderstanding.
|They won’t want to talk about it.||Let that be their choice, not yours.
That’s often all they want to talk about.
|I might upset them.||They’re already upset; that is a natural part of grieving.|
|They need to keep busy.||Routine activities are important but new activities may be confusing.
Not thinking about it delays grief.
|Getting rid of reminders helps; encourage only good memories.||This suggests it’s wrong to think of the person who died or to have bad memories.|
|I won’t mention it unless they do.||This suggests it is not alright to mention the person; that there is something bad about them or their death; that you don’t care.|
|Once they’ve been angry or guilty that should be the end of it.||Grief is a process, not steps. Feelings will surface repeatedly, as each aspect of the loss is realized.|
|It is morbid to want to touch or talk about the body.||This is normal for children.
It is a good way to say good-bye and make the death seem real.
|Use terms like “passed away” or “gone to heaven”.||These are misleading and will confuse and frighten children. “Dead” is better.|
|If they are not expressing grief, children aren’t grieving.||They may not know how to express feelings or know they have permission to grieve. They may delay grief to avoid upsetting others.|
|I should tell them all the facts immediately.||They may not be able to understand all aspects of the death or handle the intensity of the situation right away.|
Adapted from “When Children Grieve”