Guide: Grief Support for Children

Overview: Children and Grief

Just as many adults struggle with grief after a death, so children struggle with grief as well. However, a child's experience of grief may be very different than an adult's, and may require a different approach. Children may feel confused, angry, sad, frustrated, disoriented, and lonely, and may act out these new feelings in aggressive or inappropriate ways. For adults, knowing how to talk to children about their feelings around death can be confusing and challenging.

What You Need to Know

Many grieving children feel isolated in their experience of grief, and so many resources for grieving children focus on connecting grieving children and teens with other grieving kids. There are a number of weekend and overnight camps for grieving children, as well as in-person support groups, email support groups, and online forums.

Many sites also offer resources for parents and other child caregivers. From family counseling to activities to do with grieving children to ways to talk with grieving children, there are many organizations and resources dedicated to helping children through the difficult emotions of grief.

Resources

A Little Hope: The National Foundation for Grieving Children Teens and Families

A Little Hope is a non-profit that grants funds to organizations that provide bereavement support services and grief counseling to children and teens. Their website offers a directory of state-by-state grant-recipient organizations, as well as a long list of online bereavement resources.

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The Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families

The Dougy Center is located in Portland, Oregon, and offers peer support groups for children and teens (ages 13-18), young adults, and their family members. Groups are free and meet every other week. The site also has a directory of over 500 organizations and groups that provide grief support and services for young people and their families.

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National Alliance for Grieving Children

The National Alliance for Grieving Children offers a state-by-state directory of grief support service providers that serve children, teens, and their families. In addition, the site has a section of suggested activities for grieving children, which may be particularly helpful to parents and caregivers trying to reach out to grieving children.

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Hello Grief

A resource for teens, Hello Grief is a social site organized around forums where teens can meet and interact with other grieving teens. The site features weekly stories by teens about living with loss, and essays by professionals about coping with grief. In addition, Hello Grief offers a state-by-state list of grief resources and support groups for teens and their parents.

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KidsAid

An offshoot of GriefNet.com, KidsAid is a place for children of all ages to connect with and support each other around issues of grief and loss. A peer-to-peer support model, KidsAid encourages children to share their artwork, stories, and experiences with each other, and to ask questions and find answers from the community. The site moderates email support groups for children under 12 and teens ages 13-18.

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The Healing Book by Ellen Sabin

This interactive book by author Ellen Sabin is designed to help children and their families express their feelings, ask questions, and explore their memories about a loved one who has died. The book combines the elements of an activity book, a journal, and a conversation-starter to help children understand their feelings of grief and loss.

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Camp Erin

Camp Erin is a free weekend-long camp for grieving children and teens ages 6-17, where kids can connect with other kids who have lost a loved one. Camp Erin camps are held at 40 locations nationwide, and are available to all kids who have experienced the death of someone close to them.

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Comfort Zone Camp

Comfort Zone Camp is a free camp for grieving children ages 7-17, where kids can learn to cope with grief in a community of grieving children. Comfort Zone Camps are held year-round at locations in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia.

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