Children need to be allowed to grieve

Children grieve and mourn as deeply as adults. However, they will experience and express their grief differently from the grown-ups around them, depending on their cognitive and emotional development.

Even young children will need to come to grips with death and grieving. a parent’s guidance can ensure that grief is a natural part of life.

Children grieve and mourn as deeply as adults.

However, they will experience and express their grief differently from the grown-ups around them, depending on their cognitive and emotional development. Their response will depend on the knowledge and skills available to them at the time of the death.

Children who are grieving need their parents or caregivers to be honest with them. They need accurate, factual information, and they need the freedom to ask questions.

It is OK to say that “Grandpa has died.” Using terms such as “gone”, “lost” or “sleeping” can cause more confusion and anxiety. Ask your child what they’ve heard and reword what is needed to be accurate and clear.

Children need to express their feelings and should be included, in an appropriate way, in decisions and discussions and family rituals of remembrance. They will need stable, consistent attention from caregivers and time to explore and come to terms with the meaning of their loss.

People experience and express their grief in unique ways. Failure to understand and accept them can result in hurt feelings and conflict among family members.

It may also cause people to bury their true emotions. Failing to allow a child to express grief can lead to complicated and unhealthy physical and emotional manifestations down the road.

The following are some factors that affect a child’s grief experience:

• The child’s relationship to the deceased,

• Was the death anticipated or sudden? Was there an opportunity to discuss the situation with the child before the death occurred?

• Does the child have previous experience with death, such as the death of a pet or observing others deal with death?

• Are there adults around who are modeling healthy grieving and coping skills,

• Is there opportunity for the child to participate in meaningful rituals allowing them to create memories, express their feelings and the have the opportunity to process the grief.

Like adults, children must have their feelings validated and must find healthy ways to express their grief.

Art, music, writing, looking at pictures, creating a memory book are some options. Do not be afraid to talk with your child about the deceased. Mention the deceased by name in conversations and share your favourite memories.

Tears and laughter are also healthy expressions of grief. Listen to your child and their stories and memories.

There are some good books available on the topic of grief and children. Other resources include the child’s school counselor, the funeral home, your place of worship or a counseling agency that offers family, grief or play therapy.

Grief needs attention and cannot be pushed aside or rushed through. As painful as it may be, it must be experienced.

By seeking help and resources and providing honesty and a comforting environment to children, they can experience grief in a healthy way.

Positive Parenting appears every week in LIFE. This week’s column was written by Laurie Whitaker, manager of the Home Support Program with Family Services of Central Alberta. Whitaker can be reached by calling 403-343-6400 or

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

Come play at Medicine River Wildlife Centre

Grand opening of new playground

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

TORONTO — Christine Sinclair continues to have an impact on and off… Continue reading

In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine.… Continue reading

Happy birthday Boler: 100s of cute campers in Winnipeg for anniversary gathering

WINNIPEG — Angela Durand sits outside her camper which is decorated to… Continue reading

Merkel, Putin share a headache: Donald Trump

FRANKFURT — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will… Continue reading

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

TORONTO — The president of Tim Hortons says a plan to conquer… Continue reading

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been… Continue reading

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault while on the job

TORONTO — A Toronto newspaper photographer said he opted to file a… Continue reading

Annual inflation rate jumped to 3.0% in July, highest reading since 2011

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says higher gasoline prices helped push the country’s… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month