Grief and Loss

It is not always easy to know how to help children and adolescents cope with grief or loss. 
We have compiled some resources below that might assist
heart in a hug
you with this topic. Of course, if your child is struggling we hope you will also consider reaching out to any of the counselors or accessing the Student Assistance Programs available in your child's building. Please read below for information from the National Association of School Psychologists on grief. You can access the full tip sheet that this information came from under the "Articles and Tip Sheets" section below.

GRIEF REACTIONS 

There is no right or wrong way to react to a loss. No two individuals will react in exactly the same way. Grief reactions among children and adolescents are influenced by their developmental level, personal characteristics, mental health, family and cultural influences, and previous exposure to crisis, death, and loss. However, some general trends exist that can help adults understand typical and atypical reactions of bereaved children. Sadness, confusion, and anxiety are among the most common grief responses and are likely to occur for children of all ages.  The following behaviors may warrant further attention: 

Preschool Level: 
  • Decreased verbalization
  • Increased anxiety (e.g., clinginess, fear of separation)
  • Regressive behaviors (e.g., bedwetting, thumb sucking)
Elementary School Level:
  • Difficulty concentrating or inattention
  • Somatic complaints (e.g., headaches, stomach problems)
  • Sleep disturbances (e.g., nightmares, fear of the dark)
  • Repeated telling and acting out of the event
  • Withdrawal
  • Increased irritability, disruptive behavior, or aggressive behavior
  • Increased anxiety (e.g., clinging, whining)
  • Depression, guilt, or anger
Middle and High School Level:
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional numbing or depression
  • Nightmares
  • Avoidance or withdrawal
  • Peer relationship problems
  • Substance abuse or other high-risk behavior

LOCAL AGENCIES & HOTLINES


An agency focusing on grieving children and families 
3847 Skippack Pike
P.O. Box 1299
Skippack, PA 19474
Phone: 610-222-4110

Montgomery Count Mobile Crisis Support Line: 1-855-634-HOPE 
  • 24 hour telephone counseling
  • Services provided in the individual’s home
  • Assistance with developing strategies for reducing recurring crisis
  • Support for drug/alcohol use or addiction
  • Help coping with past traumatic experiences
  • Emergency respite
  • Peer support
Montgomery County Children’s Crisis Support Hotline: 888-435-7414 
The hotline is available 24-hours a day/7 days a week. They offer telephone and mobile crisis support to children, adolescents (up to 18 years old), and their family members in Montgomery County. A trained crisis support professional will help stabilize the immediate crisis through phone and/or face-to-face contact—and continue to provide support until additional resources can be contacted.

An agency focusing on grieving children and families 
336 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, PA 19087 
Phone: (610) 687-5150

Creative Health Services 
(Not for emergencies, but to find a counselor) 
Deb Donahue
1 Mennonite Church Road 
Spring City, Pa 19475
Phone: 610-948-6490 ext 1520
e-mail: ddonahue@creativehs.org 

Coalition to Support Grieving Students

CHILDREN'S BOOKS


Tear Soup, Chuck DeKlyen and Pat Schwiebert

The Fall Of Freddie the Leaf, Leo Buscaglia

Invisible String, Patrice Karst