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Grief & Children

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The child may not believe, or may act as if, the death did not happen. This helps them escape from the overwhelming emotions they may be experiencing
The child may be angry with the person who died or with others around them. They may feel that they have been left "all alone".
This may be apparent in decreased activity as well as crying.
The child may think that they caused the death by being angry with the person who died. Or, they may feel responsible because they were not "good enough".
They may fear that they or others will die.

Other Characteristics

  • The child may have physical symptoms such as stomachache and headache.
  • Many children will exhibit regressive behaviors. Examples are doing things they've outgrown. This can include thumb sucking, asking for help doing things they know how to do, or wetting the bed. These regressions recall a time prior to the trauma when they felt more secure.



Mid Michigan Organization

Ele's Place provides support for grieving children and their families. This nonprofit, community-based organization is located in Lansing, Michigan.


Books for Young Children

  • Thomas, Pat. I Miss You, A First Look At Death. (0-7641-1764-5) Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2001. This is one of the few books that explains death, funerals, and feelings using simple language suited to children Ages 2 to 8 (publisher states ages 4-8).

Books Recommended for Kids by Ele's Place

  • Winsch, Jane Loretta. After the Funeral. (0-8091-6625-9) Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1995. This small book addresses many different feelings and questions children have following a death. Illustrations are culturally diverse and the brief text invites further discussion. Ages 3 to 10.
  • Heegaard, Marge Eaton. Coping with Death and Grief. (ISBN 0-8225-0043-4) Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1990. Children tell their own stories of loss, helping to reassure the reader than he or she is not alone. Ages 8 to 12.
  • Fitzgerald, Helen. The Grieving Child - A Parent's Guide. (ISBN 0-6717-6762-3) New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. An excellent guide to understanding and helping children cope with grief.
  • Kroen, PhD., William C. Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One - A Guide for Grownups. (ISBN 1-5754-2000-7) Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1997. A brief guide for parents answering frequently asked questions.
  • Mellonie, Bryan, and Robert Ingpen. Lifetimes (ISBN 0-5533-4402-1) New York: Bantam Books, 1983. A gentle explanation of the life cycle of nature. Ages 3 to 8. Review: I found this was a little hard for our 2 1/2 year old to follow.
  • Vigna, Judith. Saying Goodbye to Daddy. (ISBN 0-8075-7253-5) Morton Grove: Albert Whitman & Company, 1991. A sensitive book about coping with sudden death. Ages 5 to 10.
  • Grollman, Earl A.. Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers. (ISBN 0-8070-2501) Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. Easy to read, straightforward information about handling grief. Ages 12 and up.
  • Grollman, Earl A.. Talking About Death - A Dialogue Between Parent and Child. (ISBN 0-8070-2363-9) Boston: Beacon Press, 1991. To be read with children ages 3 to 6; helps parents answer children's questions.
  • Romain, Trevor. What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?. (1-5754-2055-4) Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1999. A helpful, informative book for kids about their experiences following a death. Ages 6 to 12.

Helpful Stories to Explain Death

Books from Fred Rogers/Family Communications

Mr. Rogers wrote books and pamphlets that help children understand death.

Share Information on Books

Please email the details of books that you find helpful for children and grief. Thank you.