When a child or teen is grieving the death of an important person, people often use traditional responses intended to provide comfort and show that they care. However, many of those responses tend to be unhelpful or invalidating. Here are some more helpful ways to talk to a grieving child.
|Instead of saying this:||Say something like this:|
|“I’m sorry for your loss.”||“I know there are no words to make this better, but I’m here if you want to talk or if you want support.”|
|“I understand what you’re going through.”||“Grief is so different for everyone. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”|
|“You need to be strong.” The holidays must be so hard for you.”||“Whatever emotions you’re feeling are valid. How are you feeling today?”|
|“They’re in a better place.”||“A lot of people believe that your person’s presence stays with you. What are some ways that help you feel connected to them?”|
|“How are you?”||"It’s nice to see you. How are doing today?” Or, “How is your day going?”|
|“Your person wouldn’t want you to be sad.”||"It’s okay that you’re feeling sad. Is there something helpful I can do for you in this moment?”|
|“The holidays must be so hard for you.”||“Some people might find the holidays to be challenging. Are there any traditions that I can make sure we continue?”|
November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month. If you have questions on how to support your grieving children or teens, please contact Care Dimensions’ Children’s Program Department at 855-774-5100 or email [email protected].
About the authors
Sammy McCarthy, MS, CCLS, is Care Dimensions’ Children’s Program Manager, and Sarah Bujold, MS, CCLS, is a certified child life specialist.
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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore, has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.