As a parent, we want to make sure our kid’s lives are hearts, stars, and rainbows every day. We want them to see the beauty in the world around them and have new discoveries be magical.
And then sometimes life happens in a way that we cannot protect them from sadness. They are small people with huge emotions that can find it really hard to process death. From understanding this enormous concept to grieving with loss in their own way, it can be difficult to help children during this time.
Whether it is a pet or a human loved one, children need to feel safe, loved, and empowered as they process their loss. This can be especially challenging as a parent. What do I say? Should they come to the funeral? What ages can handle different amounts of information? How do I know if they are struggling and need additional help?
It can be really hard for us as parents to figure out the answers to these questions as we are also grieving and dealing with our own huge emotions at the same time. As much as I hope you will never need to use this article, I hope you will take time to read through these resources so you are prepared in the future and bookmark this for future reference.
Resources to help both you and your little one to cope with death:
- The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
- Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
- I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
- Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
- Ida, Always by Caron Levis
- I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
- Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
- Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
- Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert
- When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
- The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
- We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had An Angel Instead by Pat Schwiebert
- Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide To Understanding Death by Bonnie Zucker
- Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
These are just a few of the many books available, check out more at your local library too.
- NY Times: Why Do 4-Year Olds Love Talking About Death?
- FamilyDoctor.org: Helping Your Child Deal With Death
- Standford Children’s Heath: When A Family Grieves
- Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Deal With Grief
3. Websites and Videos
- Sesame Street For Families: When Families Grieve (specially designed for military families)
- Sesame Street Toolkits: Grief
- Fred Rogers: Dealing With Death
- Kids Heath by Nemours: Kids Talk About Death
- The Children’s Workshop: Helping Children Cope With Death
- National Association For the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): Resources on Death for Young Children, Families, and Educators
- My Grief Assist: Let’s Talk About Grief: Explaining Death To Children *This might be the best video I have seen as a teacher and parent to help me internalize the death, grieving, and burial process and how to explain each step to a child. Highly recommend watching this entire video (with tissues).