Green River Star -

By Stacey Palmer
Sweetwater County Library System 

Helping children deal with loss


One of the most difficult things we must do in life is saying goodbye to someone we love. As challenging as it is for adults to do, it’s an entirely different experience for a child. There is already so much about life that children do not yet understand; death is a concept that many children cannot comprehend. Add in emotions that can be confusing to the child, and the situation becomes even harder to deal with.

What can we do as adults to help children navigate this terrain that is so hard for us to handle? Should we wait until the child experiences their first loss before we start the conversation? What if the child’s grief is caused by something other than a death, such as a divorce, a parent’s military deployment, or a serious illness?

These are difficult questions to answer. Many parents think their child is too young to understand, so they try to hide the situation from their child, keep their emotions to themselves, and hope that time will be enough to help the child move on.

Parents of older children may believe that their child is old enough to already understand what has happened and how to deal with it, so they do not explain it to their child or provide opportunities for them to express their feelings. And far too often, children can feel forgotten while their parent deals with a family death or emergency.

Fortunately, the library has some great resources for parents and other adults working with children who have experienced a loss. We even have books that give advice on how to prepare a child for an impending loss, such as ways to help them say goodbye to a terminally sick family member. We also have books that explain activities and projects that can help your child express their feelings, create memories, and commemorate their loved one.

Our children and young adult books provide age appropriate information and stories that you can share with your child. They are a great way to start a discussion and talk about feelings.

We have expanded our collection of these books recently with the following additions:

Adult books

“Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children” by Liana Lowenstein

“Healing Activities for Children in Grief” by Gay McWhorter

“When Children Grieve” by John James, Russell Friedman, and Leslie Matthews

“Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One” by William Kroen

Children books

“The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst

– Two children learn that they are connected to everyone they love, even when they are separated. This is a great book to help children cope with any situation where they miss someone important to them.

“Tear Soup” by Pat Schwiebert

– Grandy has experienced a big loss and makes Tear Soup to help her grieve. This book explains that everyone copes with sad things differently, it’s okay to express your emotions, and how people can help others who are sad.

“The Scar” by Charlotte Moundlic

– When a young boy’s mother passes away, he deals with a variety of feelings and eventually finds comfort in knowing that she will always be in his heart.

“I Miss You” by Pat Thomas

– This book explains, in very simple ways, what death is and how one may feel when someone they love dies.

“The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages” by Leo Buscaglia

– Freddie the leaf learns about the life cycle through his experiences during each season. This book uses symbolism to explain that all living things eventually die and can be useful to introduce the concept to young children.


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