Talking to a Child About Loss

Saturday, September 1, 2018
Talking To A Child About Loss

Examples of significant loss experiences for children
  • Moving to a new home
  • Loss of a sense of safety
  • Loss of structure
  • Moving to a new school
  • Sudden change in family financial status
  • Death
  • Loss of a pet
  • Sudden health changes for self/family/friends
  • Divorce

It is not useful to...
  • Assume the child is too young to experience loss
  • Try to fix the feelings
  • Try to "replace" the loss
  • Assure the child that "time will make it go away"
  • Encourage the child to "be strong"
  • Tell the child not to "feel bad"
  • Tell the child to "just keep busy"
  • Assure the child that the loved one "led a full life" before the child is ready for this concept - chronologically or emotionally

It is useful to...
  • Talk about the loss
  • Acknowledge your own experiences with loss
  • Listen to your child's feelings about the loss
  • Ask questions

It is normal for a child to...
  • Dream about the loss
  • Begin to worry about his/her own care/mortality
  • Try to "take care of" the adults/others-but not healthy for the child or the adult.

What to do
  • Allow child to express sorrow
  • Allow child to talk about past and future hopes and dreams; good times and bad
  • Talk about the feelings
  • Initiate conversation with the child
  • Model the expression of feelings for child