Children everywhere are gong back to school. For some it will be a return. For others, it will be a new beginning. Some will readily adjust. Others will find it harder. They will feel acutely the loss of familiar routines and the impact of starting new ones. Some may even suffer symptoms of grief. So it is an opportune time to remind ourselves that just like adults, children can experience grief. And just like adults, we can help them through it. 

When children lose something precious or someone who matters to them, they can feel a great sense of loss, grief, pain, heartache and anguish. It could be the loss of familiar routine, or something ‘more serious.’ At the time, whatever the cause, it is serious for the child experiencing it. There are ways you can help grieving children.


Grief is the feeling of sadness we experience when we lose something important and significant in our lives. If we are not normally sad, then the feelings of grief can be confusing and unsettling. If this is the case for adults, what must it be like for children?

Grieving Children

Children are generally positive and enthusiastic about life. Nature makes them that way so that they can grow and thrive. So you can imagine that if they experience grief, they can be bewildered and confused. This only adds to their distress.

When children experience grief, it may be the first time that they have been really sad. Life has ticked along normally, and then out of the blue, something has upset the apple cart.

Whether it is a ‘big’ loss, such as the death of a favourite grand parent, a serious illness in the family, or a seemingly small one like the breaking of a precious toy, the child’s world can be turned upside down. So parents and carers need to address the situation with patience and calm. If we can stay calm around the child, it helps to stabilise them. They know that in spite of their loss, there is something around them they can rely on. Life is stable and goes on. They are still loved and supported.

For more information about helping grieving children, see: Supporting Grieving Children. There are some ideas about how children express grief, and ways you can help them work through it. Also see Grief and Loss.

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