Resources to help you support children.
These resources can be used when explaining death or advanced illness to young children or to help them grieve.
Children grieve differently than adults: they grieve in doses, alternating between times of play and intense emotions. A child’s age, developmental stage, and experiences will determine their understanding of death and ability to cope with the death of someone in their life. As well, children often “re-grieve” the loss as they move through life.
When someone has a life-threatening illness, their whole family is impacted by the many changes, concerns, and uncertainties. Adults may choose to avoid talking to children about the illness to protect them from pain and distress. However, consider that children can typically feel when something is going on in their family even when they are not told. When they are not informed, they often feel excluded, alone, and isolated. They may even think that they have caused the anxiety and unsettled state of their family.
When a child or teen has experienced the death of someone in their lives, the thought of going back to school often brings additional challenges. When faced with this situation, parents can do a few things to help their children feel safe and give them a sense of stability.
When someone in our world dies suddenly, there can be a profound impact on us. In the hours and days following a death, our bodies and mind respond in many ways: from numbness and silence to outbursts and busy bodies. All these responses are normal.
After a death, many decisions need to be made fairly quickly, including about funeral or memorial services. Parents often wrestle with whether it is appropriate for their children to attend the service and what they should consider.
As parents, we wonder, “How can this sort of thing happen? Is my family safe? Is the world we live in safe?” We feel helpless, numb, terrified, angry, profoundly sad, and we ask ourselves, “How do I handle this? Where to from here?” Here are some things you can do for yourself and your family.
Did you know we have a Parent Lunch and Learn Series?
The series, led by the Children’s Grief Centre, provides parents and caregivers with brief, concrete, and accessible information as they navigate new situations with their grief and their children’s grief. Learn more about the series and to watch recorded conversations.
Resources from Other Organizations
Suggested Books for Children
The book titles below will link you to Goodreads. There, you’ll find reviews and information about the book. Most of these books can be borrowed from the Library or purchased from book stores.
Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon
by JonArno Lawson
When Something Terrible Happens: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief
Rafi’s Red Racing Car: Explaining Suicide and Grief to Young Children
On the News: Our First Talk about Tragedy
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss
Someone I Love Died by Suicide: A Story for Child Survivors and Those Who Care for Them
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
The Giving Tree
Cry, Heart, But Never Break
by Glenn Ringtved
The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back: A Story for Children Who Have Lost Someone They Love
The Heart and the Bottle
The Memory Tree
by Britta Teckentrup
The Invisible String
by Patrice Karst
The Velveteen Rabbit: Or How Toys Become Real
by Margery Williams Bianco
The Invisible Web: A Story Celebrating Love and Universal Connection
The Rabbit Listened
by Cori Doerrfeld
Whimsy's Heavy Things
The Memory Box: A Book About Grief
by Joanna Rowland
When Mom or Dad Dies: A Book for Comfort for Kids
by Daniel Grippo
The Next Place
When I'm Feeling Sad
by Trace Moroney
When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change
by Marge Eaton Heegaard
Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You
Where I Belong
by Linda Kranz
by Charlotte Agell
Michael Rosen's Sad Book
by Michael Rosen