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Loss and death

What happens when you lose someone?

Losing someone you love is difficult for everyone. People deal with death and loss differently.

You can't shield your child from the grief they might experience-- but you can help them feel heard and safe. By allowing and encouraging your child to express their feelings during this difficult time, you're helping them build healthy coping skills for life.

What does losing someone look like for your child?

Grief is a profound experience at any age. Children who are grieving may feel deeply sad, lonely, or numb. Like adults, children in mourning often feel helpless and they can worry that their painful feelings will never ease. Be gentle with a grieving child, both when they are experiencing obvious distress, and also at times when they seem to be feeling better. Experiencing periods of relief is a normal part of the grieving process and does not mean that the child has forgotten about the loss or is not taking it seriously.

When to start a conversation

Loss can be heavy on the heart. It helps when you have people to experience and support each other through the situation. As soon as you identify a loss, start the conversation immediately so you can help your child.

Prepare for the conversation

It’s difficult dealing with a loss as an adult. But, when you have to deal with a loss and help your child with theirs, you may need additional support of your own . Make sure you prepare emotionally and mentally so you can help your child with theirs. Get help.

Talking to your children about loss

Start a conversation

Ask your child how they're feeling about the loss. If they struggle to talk about it, acknowledge that "it's hard to talk about losing someone" and ask them if there's something that is making it especially difficult to talk about the loss.

In conversation

Don't rush the conversation or be frightened if your child starts crying or becomes angry or upset. This behavior is expected. Allow them to express themselves fully.

Next Steps

Understand the conversation

You can ask your child who, if anyone, they feel comfortable talking to about the loss. Ask if some people or situations are especially hard to deal with because of the loss.

On a lighter note, remind them that holding on to good, beautiful memories is also a way to keep that person or figure close to their heart.

Get help

Losing someone can be difficult. Make sure you have the support you need to process and deal with your emotions.

Explore more ways to communicate

Discover additional ways you can encourage your child to share how they're feeling.