Processing Grief Through Reading for Children

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, February 19, 2024

Grief can be hard at any age, but for children and young teens, expressing and processing grief can be especially challenging. It is a very complex emotion, and some children may not be able to fully grasp what they are feeling. Children, however, can often process complex emotions through literature. This article will explore some ways that reading can be a great tool for children dealing with grief.

Understanding Grief in Children

Before helping your child process their grief, you should first have an understanding of how children tend to express it. For younger children especially, grief may be hard to articulate. They may not have the vocabulary to properly voice their feelings. Behavioral changes, mood swings, withdrawal, or even physical complaints may occur. While physical signs can differ drastically through the developmental stages, common signs in younger children include bed-wetting, appetite loss, fear of isolation, and more. You may also see a drop in performance in school or extracurricular activities. 

Talking to Your Child About Grief

It is important to talk with your child about their loss, and how grief may affect them. It is important to be patient with them. Show that you are acknowledging what they are feeling. Speak honestly and directly about death and grief. Children are often very inquisitive, so feel free to answer their questions if you can. 

Reading and Coping With Grief

Books can help convey complex emotions to readers. Even children’s books or teen novels can offer some solace in their pages. Relatable experiences and characters with similar struggles can help children process grief and explore their feelings of loss.

Choosing a Book That is Right for Your Child’s Grief Journey

Books can vary by difficulty, maturity, themes, and writing style. Picking the right one for your child’s grief journey may be difficult. It may not just take one book. But reading is an invaluable tool for children at any age to cope with grief. Consider reaching out to other family members, other parents, or their teachers for possible book recommendations. You can also ask your local librarian for assistance. If you are unsure that a book may be age-appropriate for them, consider looking at reviews or reading it yourself first. You can also read along with them or get a copy for yourself. Being able to discuss with them the themes and experiences in a book can be a good way to help you both work through grief. 

Consult with a Counselor or Therapist

Grief is a challenging and often confusing emotion for people of any age. Consider consulting with a therapist or grief counselor for your child. Even their school’s guidance counselor may have some helpful resources for you or your child. They may also have some reading recommendations for your kid that could be helpful.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For more personalized grief care, find a grief counselor that is right for you. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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