Understanding Grief and Loss – with the Help of Peers

I’m hoping to provide a program that supports children who have experienced a significant loss or change in their lives – if you’re considering if your child would benefit from participating in the program, please head to the short survey on C-Hub to register your interest.

Loss can impact each individual in many different ways, and what is hard for one person may not be hard for someone else. In preparation for this program I’ve been doing a bit of reading, and I came across this Charter for Bereaved Children from a children’s charity in the UK. I’ve adapted it slightly to apply to multiple different situations such as a chronic illness, significant relocation or a family separation.

I hope this will provide you with some ideas for either a special young one you know of going through something significant now, or as something to keep in mind if it ever comes up. If you have concerns about someone who has experienced a loss or significant change, please get in touch with me at school, or check out the other resources on the C-Hub page.

  • Bereavement support – Children need to know that the key adults in their lives understand and recognise that their current circumstances might be hard for them.
  • Express feelings and thoughts – there are so many creative, appropriate ways for children to express their emotions (either positive or negative), and it’s important to allow this if desired.
  • Remember the past – If a loss brings up strong emotions, it’s a good indicator that what is missing was of value, and that can and should be acknowledged appropriately. You don’t have to forget the good times with someone just because there won’t be any more – and the memories might even be more special BECAUSE of that fact.
  • Education and information – It can help children to process what has happened if they are able to get age appropriate answers that explain what happened, why it happened, and what will happen next
  • Appropriate response – kids shouldn’t have to ask for help for it to be available.
  • Voice in important decisions – part of the difficulty in coping with a loss is the sense of things being out of control. If there are choices to be made that it would be appropriate for the child to have some input, this can allow at least some sense of control.
  • Enjoyment – when a child feels ready for it, they should be allowed to do things that they enjoy. Sometimes when there is a loss, it can feel like it’s disloyal to be happy or have fun again.
  • Meet others – children who have experienced a loss benefit from understanding that it’s normal and happens to others too.
  • Established routines – If the child is willing, continuing on with normal things like school, church and extra activities can be helpful. It can reduce time for tired, worried minds to be left wandering and dwelling, and reminds them that there are good things in life too.
  • Not to blame – sometimes people have regrets, or get stuck in the “woulda-shoulda-coulda” mind frame. Kids are particularly susceptible to blaming themselves because they don’t fully understand all the cause and effect relationships of a situation and often don’t have all the information.
  • Tell the story – it can help a child regain a sense of self and how the world works if they are able to tell a coherent and accurate story of what has happened. Gaps and misinformation can lead to a child making wrong conclusions about themselves, their relationships and their lives.