Why Grieving Children Don’t Get The Help They Need

Children are often the overlooked mourners.  These young grievers unfortunately may never get their greatest emotional and spiritual needs met in dealing with their devastating loss. Why does this happen?

In the family, adults are dealing with their own grief.  They don’t know what to do for themselves, much less what to do for hurting, grieving children.  To complicate the situation further, grieving children in a family or community are often pushed aside, chastised, punished and suddenly marked as “problem children” because they act out in protest to their loss.  The adults around them don’t understand that the child in grief is angry, upset, and scared….and the only coping skill they know to employ is protest, acting out and seeking attention in any way possible.  These are not problem children, but children with a problem.  They need the adults around them to provide comfort, encouragement and most importantly security.  Grieving children who are acting out and having trouble in school are often misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD.  These troubled children will often display the symptoms of these two diagnoses.

In many communities, there are no grief support groups, agencies or professionals who reach out to grieving children.  Our culture fosters two myths about children in grief. One myth is that children are too young to understand loss and therefore, they don’t grieve.  Another myth is that children grieve like little adults and can have their needs met exactly the way mourning adults do.  The truth is that children who are old enough to love are old enough to grieve (from Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition http://centerforloss.com). Children do grieve.  They grieve at the level of understanding they have at their developmental stage in life.  And children need support, encouragement, and instruction in order to develop healthy coping skills to deal with their loss.  Often when they fail to receive the needed support during grief, children will develop unhealthy coping skills which they will carry into their adult lives.  The result is unhealthy, unhappy adults dealing with emotional and spiritual life problems.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

You can reach out to grieving children at the time that they need you most.  Start a program or services in your community especially for grieving children and teens.  One resource for helping you to do this is the Kids In Grief Curriculum (copyright, 2013, ChristianWorks for Children).  For more information about the Kids In Grief Curriculum, go to http://grief-works.org or call 972-960-9981

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and http://grief-works.org/book.php . Also available for Kindle and Nook.

Children’s Grief from a Mother’s Point of View

I had no idea what I was supposed to do when my husband passed away and how to help my 2-year-old daughter with the loss of her dad.  I looked for children’s books to help her understand.  I went through counseling on my own for guidance.  Through personal trial and error, I learned what top three things it was that my child needed the most.

(1)   Routine was essential!  Creating an atmosphere of balance and predictability helped my daughter find a new norm and sense of security.
(2)   Consistently being available and open to discussing our tragedy when she wanted to talk, allowed her to release her emotions to heal.
(3)   Telling my daughter how much I loved her every day gave her the reassurance of how much I supported her.

Parental guidance and input is crucial to your child’s recovery.  Concentrating on these key points will help. Your children certainly need you and want your support.

-Rebecca Crownover
Author of Children’s Book, My Daddy Is In Heaven With Jesus…a book to help comfort children in a time of grief.
Learn more at:  www.rebeccacrownover.com

What Mourning Children Need Returning to School

This school year thousands of children and teens will be returning to the classroom in North Texas and around the U.S. after the death of a close family member.  According to statistics 4% of single parents in the U.S. are widowed, and 13.9% of those widowed parent households have children 12 and under.  Additional children headed back to school have lost a sibling, grand parent or significant loved one.

These mourning children and teens will not only be facing the stresses of a new school year; they will have the additional stress of dealing with all the changes in their lives caused by the death of their loved ones.  Unfortunately many of these children will not receive adequate support and comfort to meet their special needs.

What do mourning children returning to school need? First of all they need to feel safe, secure and cared for.  After a death, the world becomes a scary, unpredictable place for any age mourner, but especially for a child.  They need a good support system of adults and authority figures.

Second, children in grief need to feel a sense of normalcy.  When a death occurs, the mourning child often feels that they are no longer like all the other children in their school.  In addition children in grief need to have a predictable schedule and to be involved in normal activities for children of their age.

In order to get these two primary needs met, grieving children must not only have a good support system in their home and community, but they need a good support system in their school as well.  Here are some practical suggestions for parents or caregivers for grieving children to help create that good support system at the school.

  • Educate yourself on the grief process and the special needs of mourning children before talking with your child or anyone at the school.  This will help you to formulate an effective plan to meet the special needs of your child as they return to school.
  • Inform the school staff of the child’s loss.  Include at least the principal, teacher, school counselor and school nurse on the list of people you inform.
  • Schedule a private session with your child’s teacher to discuss any concerns that you have about his or her return to school and the classroom.
  • Discuss with the teacher and other staff what information can be shared with the child’s friends and fellow classmates concerning the loss.  Prior to this discussion assure your child that you will share only information that is necessary for others to know.  Ask the staff to prepare the other students by explaining that your child has had a loss and needs understanding and support from them.
  • Encourage your child to talk with his or her teacher (and the school counselor if possible) to share the loss and their experience in their own words.
  • Assure your child that they don’t have to answer every question if they feel uncomfortable doing so.  Tell her or him that they have a right to privacy when questioned by anyone at the school.
  • Assure your child that the teacher, counselor and other staff will be available to approach when he or she feels that need to talk.
  • Set up a plan for when your child may be overwhelmed by his or her grief at school.  One suggestion is to arrange between the child and school staff for special permission for the child to leave the classroom and go to a designated safe place to receive support and comfort.  The child should understand that this permission is not an excuse to get out of everyday school work or responsibilities.
  • Make sure the school has your phone numbers and contact information in case of emergencies.

For additional information on helping children or teens in grief, go to the Resources section of the website http://grief-works.org  or call ChristianWorks for Children at 972-960-9981.

Keeping Communications Open

By: Kenneth J Doka, PhD

Throughout a time of loss, it is critical to keep communication with a child open.  Only by doing so can we truly understand the ways that the child is experiencing grief, allay any fears the child may have, and support the child in his or her grief journey.

This means that we need to answer the child’s questions in clear and honest ways.  Two rules can help us here.  The first rule is to always understand the context of the question.  Gee, that is an interesting question, what made you ask that? Such a question helps clarify the child’s concerns or fears.  Then always answer in a way that is honest but also keeps the conversation going.  A simple yes or no leaves little room for further discussion.  For example suppose a child asks if you are going to die.  A response like Most people live until they are old, even old enough to see you children or grand children – that’s why Mommy always buckles her seatbelt and stopped smoking so she could live, I hope, a long life, is both truthful and reassuring.

It is also helpful to be direct.   The romantic stories we may weave and the euphemisms that we use might only frighten and confuse the child.  It is best to give simple, honest, and direct answers appropriate to the child’s developmental level.  If we do not have an answer, it is good to simply say so.  I do not know why Grandma had to die.  I miss her – what do you miss most about her?

Save the Dates and Join Us For these two important events:

In April 2013, GriefWorks will be hosting two educational events for the community & healthcare professionals presented by renowned grief specialist, author, and educator:

Kenneth J. Doka, Ph.D.
Senior Consultant, Hospice Foundation of America
Professor, Graduate School, College of New Rochelle

Thursday, April 11th 2013, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Free Community Presentation:
Grief: What Helps When It Hurts

The Branch, 3035 Valley View Ln, Dallas 75234

 

Friday, April 12th, 2013, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Workshop for professionals & caregivers:
Children Mourning; Mourning Children

The Branch, 3035 Valley View Ln, Dallas 75234
Early registration $95 per person;
At the door $125 per person
Includes lunch & CEUs

 

Click here to register!

 

For more information about these GriefWorks sponsored events.
Contact GriefWorks Director Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT
by email at lbarber@christian-works.org or by calling
972-960-9981

Download the Flyer


A SACRED MOMENT OF HEALING MADE POSSIBLE BY A MEAL

You just never know how much you do for others can make a difference in their lives.  Recently ChristianWorks for Children Development Director Carol Pauley discovered how the many “small” kindnesses extended to families at GriefWorks makes a huge impact on their lives, their well being and their futures.  GriefWorks (www.grief-works.org)  is the free support group ministry for children ages 5-18 and their adult family members at ChristianWorks (www.christian-works.org) .

Carol was standing in the check out line at a local Wal-Mart when the lady in front of her turned around and excitedly announced, “Oh, you’re with GriefWorks!  My children and I used to come to sessions there after my husband died.”

The conversation continued with the former GriefWorks parent sharing with Carol just how much GriefWorks had meant to her and her children during one of their lives’ darkest times. “Is Pat Scott still there at GriefWorks?” asked the mom.  When Carol assured her that Pat was still leading the GriefWorks adult group, the lady added, “Please tell Pat how much I appreciated what she did for me and my children in those group sessions.  I can never thank her enough.”

“And are those dear, sweet volunteers still providing the home-cooked meals to the families before they go into their GriefWorks groups?” she asked Carol.  For twelve years generous volunteers have prepared home-cooked meals with truly “comfort food” for the grieving families who attend GriefWorks.  A majority of those families are single parent families.  It’s hard for a newly widowed parent to come home from a long day at work, cook a meal and then prepare the children to come to GriefWorks.

When Carol assured the GriefWorks mom that those volunteers still provide meals each session without fail, the mother took Carol’s hand and looked into her eyes.  “Tell those volunteers ‘Thanks’ from us too.  Providing those meals is no small thing.  We considered the meal times at GriefWorks ‘holy’.”

Who knew that as they prepared meals for the children and their family members at GriefWorks that what they were providing was considered “holy”?  But each meal prepared is just that – holy, sacred.  A gift from the heart of a generous volunteer that not only feeds the body, but feeds the spirit, builds community and makes healing healing possible in the pain and turmoil of grief.

Can you offer a gift of the heart to a grieving child and their family by providing a meal at GriefWorks?  You don’t have to be a great chef; you just need a willingness to help families in grief.  You don’t have to do meals for every GriefWorks session; you just need to volunteer for the number of times you can spare to help…once a month, once a quarter, or once.

And you don’t have to do it alone; you and your Bible class…or you and your local club or organization….can volunteer to prepare, deliver and serve meals to the GriefWorks children and families.  Call Janet Johnston at 972-960-9981 and let her know when and how often you are able to help with the GriefWorks meals.  And if you can’t prepare meals, maybe you know someone who can. Share this information with them.

In one small act of kindness for hurting children and their families you can provide a moment when they can break bread together…and to begin to mend broken hearts.

You will be creating for these families a sacred moment to heal.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  Matthew 25:40

 

What Does My Child Understand About Death and Grief?

We parents have an innate desire to protect our child from the “negative” things of life, but when death and tragedy strike suddenly and openly, we cannot shield our children from the horror and grief that can follow.  We worry how death and loss will impact these young minds because they don’t possess the life experience or coping skills of adults…and death is a hard enough concept for mature, healthy adults to wrap their minds around.

Children learn about death, loss and grief with the help of parents and the adults surrounding and being there for them.  The general rules to follow when talking to your child or adolescent about death and tragedy are:

  • Be honest.  Answer the child and give them information at their level of understanding and without sharing every shocking detail (see Children and Grief By Ages and Stages below).  Let them know that at any time they can feel safe to come to you with their grief thoughts and emotions.
  • Provide comfort, support & security.  In dealing with death, loss and grief, children need to know that they are cared for and will be protected to the best of your ability.  They need to be reassured you and others will be there to help.  They need to feel normal again.  So try to keep them involved in as many normal childhood activities as possible.
  • Don’t be ashamed to show your emotions.  If you cry or your voice wavers in the discussion with your child,  tell them that all people of all ages feel sad and grieve sometimes.  Let them know by your example that healthy adults and children naturally grieve the loss of life, especially of people they love or are close to.  Let them know that it is natural to be upset when tragedy strikes, and it is natural to feel sadness for others touched by tragedy.
  • Remember you are modeling how a healthy, mature person shows their grief.  Don’t believe the myth that “You have to be strong for the children.”  They need to know that you are human and that humans grieving in a healthy way is natural.
    At the same time, try not to overact to the situation.  Grieve, but if you feel overcome at the moment, delay your discussion and find a place to grieve openly and without restraint away from the child.
  • Observe your children for any signs of complicated grief.  If you see extreme changes in your child’s behavior (lingering anger, violent play, trouble at school, regressing to behavior of earlier ages), sleeping patterns (inability to sleep through the night, sleeping too much, nightmares), eating habits (loss of appetite, overeating) or unexplained physical ailments (headaches, stomach aches, other pain complaints),  you may want to seek professional help for you and your child.

To help you with knowing what your child’s level of understanding may be, here are some guidelines to use.

Children & Grief By Ages & Stages

Birth to age 3:

  1. View of Death – The child sees death as a loss, separation or abandonment.  Death as a concept is hard to understand.  There is no sense of permanence.
  2. Warning signs – Seek help if you see that the child is unresponsive, quiet, and sluggish, or changes sleep patterns.  Conversely, a child can “act out” and become aggressive, hard to settle and irritable.
  3. Help the child – Keep schedules normal and remind the child of boundaries and limitations.  The child needs to know that there are still consequences to his/her choices and behavior.

Ages 3 to 6:

  1. View of Death – At this stage, a child sees things as reversible and temporary.  Death and life are hard to separate.  They may believe in “magical thinking” and that their thoughts can cause things to happen such as a death, or bringing someone back to life.
  2. Warning signs – Children can exhibit nightmares, confusion, eating, sleeping, bladder or bowel problems or regression to behavior of an earlier state of development.  Sometimes they may even seem to be unaffected by the death.  Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible if the child’s behavior changes and continues.
  3. Help the child – Talk about the death using books and stories.  Explain to the child that they did not “think” the death or make it happen.  Teach the child that what happened to the loved one is not controlled by his/her behavior.

Ages 7 to 8:

  1. View of Death – Children start seeing death as final at this age.  The concept for many kids is that death happens to the old but not to someone their age.  Therefore, when death occurs to someone they love (especially someone they consider “not old”), many questions will emerge about death.
  2. Warning signs – Children may have problems in school or they may become aggressive, quiet, clingy, or think they have numerous health problems.  Behavior like not feeling safe sleeping in their own bed is common.  Always be honest with children about the death and their emotions surrounding the loss.  Encourage them to talk and take what they say seriously.  Again, do not hesitate to seek help if their behavior changes and continues.
  3. Help the child – Talk about the death in an open and honest manner.  Encourage the child to express their feelings in creative ways – through drawing, writing or story telling.  If the child asks complicated questions, answer them fully.  At this age the child is able to handle deep concepts and generally has a healthy curiosity.

Ages 9 and up:

  1. View of Death – By now the child understands that death is going to happen.  By age 12, children know that death is final and irreversible.  They not only know it can happen to anyone else, but it can also happen to them.
  2. Warning signs – Children may exhibit a wide range of feelings/behavior such as shock, denial, anxiety, fear, anger, depression and withdrawal.  Their reactions begin to be much more like an adult except they may act out their grief in behavioral changes at home and/or school.  Take their behavior and expressions seriously.  Do not hesitate to get help if their behavior changes and continues.
  3. Help the child – Talk about the death openly and honestly.  Answer their questions completely to meet their needs.  Be forthright about your own emotions.  Encourage them to talk and listen patiently.  Do not try to correct their feelings.  Encourage the child to interact with other children their age in order to receive encouragement and support during their grief.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT, author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” Available on http://grief-works.org/book.php. Also available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. Available now for Nook and Kindle.

PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON….

While you and I prepare for the holiday season just a few days away, many of our friends and loved ones live in dread of the special days ahead when families gather and they will be reminded of their grief and their loss.  In their homes there will be an empty chair at the dinner table as everyone gives celebrates time together and an empty spot around the Christmas tree when gifts are opened.  During a time that used to be overflowing with joy and celebration, those in grief will be reminded of the huge hole in their heart left by the death of someone significant in their lives.

You can help mourning friends and loved ones this year with your presence, support and encouragement.  

  • Reach out to them to let them know you are thinking about them.  Let them know that you are always available to listen and be there for them.
  • Invite them to share a meal or part of the holidays with you and your family. Mourners should never be alone.
  • Listen to them as they cry, share their stories, experiences, emotions and fears during the holidays without judging what they say or feel.  And please, don’t give any unsolicited advice.
  • Help them with their holiday chores – shopping, decorating, or preparing their home for holiday visitors.  Offer to babysit children while they take a break to pamper themselves.

Many are giving their mourning friends the gift of comfort this holiday season by helping them to understand grief–that mourning is natural, normal and healthy.  Grief is simply the overflowing love in their hearts for that person who no longer is physically present.  Mourners need to know that grieving in healthy ways honors a valuable life and helps to heal their emotional wounds caused by the death of a loved one.

Don’t let your fears of doing or saying the wrong thing keep you from doing anything at all for your mourning friend or family member during these difficult holidays ahead.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT
Director, GriefWorks, CounselingWorks and KidWorks
Author, Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise
Available at http://grief-works.org/book.php or on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (on Kindle & Nook also)

Tragedy, Death and the Need to Remember

The culture we mourners live in is not grief-friendly. Well meaning friends and family tell us they were hoping that we would be “doing better by now.” Bottom line and productivity-minded bosses give us three days bereavement leave from work when someone in our immediate family dies. Mourning employees are often expected to return to work and leave their personal business at home. As workers we mourners are still expected to make quotas and deadlines–as if nothing had changed in our lives.

Can’t we stop making mourners believe that they need to hurry up and get over their grief? Can we stop making mourners think that they have a mental or emotional disorder if they do not finish their intense grief on our timetable? Can we stop causing them to feel that remembering their loved one, feeling a twinge of pain and crying years after the death is unhealthy and abnormal?

Over sixty years have passed since the deaths of thousands that occurred in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Each year in December, crowds still gather at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii and cry over the deaths of brave young men killed there. No one walks up and says, “Oh, come on. It has been over sixty years since these people died. When are you weaklings going to get over it?”

This year eleven years have passed since the attack on 9/11. Each day thousands come to Ground Zero in New York City and cry over the almost 3,000 people killed there. No one walks up and says, “Oh, come on. It has been eleven years since these people died. When are you cry babies going to get over it?”

No one tells these Pearl Harbor and 9/11 mourners not to cry and not to grieve for two important reasons. The first reason is that those who died are important people whose lives need to be remembered. The second reason is that these are losses and historic days to be remembered because our world was never the same afterward.

Well, guess what? My losses of my wife and daughter nineteen years ago and your loss are our very own personal Pearl Harbors and 9/11’s. The people we lost to death are just as important to us as those who died at Pearl Harbor and on 9/11 are to those who continue to remember them. After our losses, our personal worlds will never be the same—just like the bereaved of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Therefore, we as mourners will continue to remember our loved ones and the days that they left our lives for the sake of our natural, healthy mourning.

If our mourning bothers the bystanders observing our grief, we mourners are not the ones who need to “get over it.” No matter how well-intentioned the judges of our grief and its duration are they are ones who need to “get over” their clueless, uninformed evaluation of our personal grief. We mourners say this with all due respect to those trying to get us to stop mourning. We love and care for our comforters and supporters as much as they do for us. But we are not going to apologize for the discomfort or inconvenience that others experience watching us mourn in a healthy way. We are not going to compromise our emotional and spiritual health or well being by stopping our mourning for the sake of others who can not see what we need-to memorialize our loved ones on a regular basis.

Okay, I’ll step down from my soapbox now. I am sorry if my views seem a little harsh, but too many mourners starting their life path into healthy mourning and healing have their grief short-circuited by our culture. The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as unhealthy, morbid and taboo.

Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives. We want to tell well-intentioned friends, family and helping professionals that mourning in a healthy way and maintaining a healthy spiritual and emotional relationship with a loved one who has died is not only beneficial and therapeutic for us–it is also our right as mourners.

From (c) 2011, Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT in “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” Available on www.xulonpress.com/book. Also available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. Available now for Nook and Kindle.

Watch the Love Never Dies YouTube video http://youtu.be/-T0zt0ZSsNE. Follow me on Twitter.

WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES, EVERYTHING CHANGES

When death strikes, our world changes.  Suddenly we realize that the assumptions and beliefs we live by every day are not necessarily the way life really is.  Bad things can and do happen, not just to other people, but they can also happen to us and to the people we hold most dear.

When loved ones are taken by death or when tragedy hits the headlines we come to recognize that this world can be a very unsafe place to be, and that the plans and dreams we have for today or tomorrow can be shattered at any second by a random act of nature, a violent act of people we don’t even know or just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We are forced to see how brutal our world can be and how fragile our lives are.

Whenever death and loss hit us, we go into shock, we look for answers to why tragic events and losses could have happened and we reflect on our lives and our beliefs.  Mourners, their caregivers and witnesses in the community are forced to learn quickly that:

  • All of us are vulnerable and Death is inevitable.  It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are, how religious you are, how much good you do for others, how many degrees you have, or how well you have planned for the future, death and grief come to us all.  One hundred percent of us are going to die and one hundred percent of us will say goodbye to people we care for.  Death is the great equalizer of all humankind. In tragedy we face our mortality.
  • The most important things in life are not things.  People and relationships are most important.  After a tragic loss, survivors, their caregivers and witnesses to the tragic event feel compelled to get closer to family and the important people in their lives.  When we experience loss due to death–especially sudden, unexpected loss–we live in fear of what might happen next.  Writer C.S. Lewis put it this way in his book A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”  In grief we live in fear of what tragic event will happen next and what other valuable people might be taken from us.
  • Time is precious, and it shouldn’t be wasted.  When loved ones die, we feel the regret for things said or not said, done or not done.  We wonder why we didn’t do things differently and why we didn’t cherish the relationships that we were given in our lives.  Our priorities change after loss. The “to do” lists and activities we once considered important seem trivial and even foolish in the aftermath of a loved one’s death and the onset of grief.  We search for meaning, purpose and joy in the “now” we live in when we realize that tomorrow or the next minute with our loved ones may not be ours.

Will tragedy, death and grief continue?  Unfortunately, yes. Important, loved ones will continue to die, tragedies will happen, and mourners will be left behind to grieve, hurt and pick up the pieces of their lives.  But loved ones can be remembered and honored in our grief.  The overflowing love we still have in our hearts for people no longer physically present can be expressed in healthy grief and in lives well-lived in memory of those loved ones lost.  We will not just be those surviving our loved ones who die. We will be living memorials to their valuable lives which cry out to be remembered.

We mourners left behind can learn the lessons of loss, remember them daily and change how we live now.  The physical relationships we still have can be treasured and appreciated now instead of after our loved ones and friends die.  We can let them know how much we care for them now in words and actions. In addition, we can make each moment count now rather than living in the past which cannot be changed or worrying about the future which we may not have.  Understanding now that this life is fragile, fleeting and far more important than we ever knew can enrich our lives and our relationships now.  And when the time comes and we run out of nows, we can say goodbye to others who die and leave this life when we die with fewer regrets.

Remember, all we have for sure is now.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-15

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT, director of GriefWorks, CounselingWorks and KidWorks.

Larry is also the author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” Available on http://grief-works.org/book.php. Also available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. Available now for Nook and Kindle.  Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the free support services provided to mourning children and their families in GriefWorks.

HELPING A CHILD IN GRIEF

After the death of a loved one, mourning adult family members deal with their own emotional turmoil following the loss.  Because these family members are often overwhelmed by their own grief, the children and adolescents in that family who are also grieving, may be overlooked.

Bereavement counselor, educator and author Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt has written “The Grieving Child’s Bill of Rights” to suggest to mourning adults what is most important for grieving children to remain healthy as the children remember and miss their loved one who has died.  Dr. Wolfelt writes:

l. Children have the right to their own unique feelings about the death.

2. Children have the right to talk about their grief whenever they feel like talking.

3. Children have the right to show their feelings of grief in their own way and time.

4. Children have the right to need other people to help them with their grief.

5. Children have the right to get upset about normal, everyday problems.

6. Children have the right to have unplanned “grief outbursts.”

7. Children have the right to use beliefs about God to help them with their grief.

8. Children have the right to try to figure out why the person died.

9. Children have the right to think and talk about memories of the person who died.

10. Children have the right to move toward and feel their grief, and over time, to heal.

Adapted from “Healing A Child’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends, & Caregivers” by Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., Center for Loss & Transition

If you know of a grieving child who you are concerned about, the following services are available for grieving children and their families through ChristianWorks for Children:

  • GriefWorks, a free children’s grief support service for ages 5-18 and their adult family members.  For more information call Janet at 972-960-9981 or email jjohnston@christian-works.org.  More information on the groups is at http://grief-works.org.
  • Grief counseling for individuals, couples, and families on a sliding scale fee.  Appointments can be made with one of the 12 Christian counselors available through CounselingWorks by calling Laurie at 972-960-9981 or emailing lgaddy@christian-works.org.  More information on counseling services is at http://christian-works.org.