Helping Children Deal With Grief

The loss of a loved one is hard to manage for people of any age, let alone young children. They may understand the concept of death, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to handle the passing of someone close to them. But what can you do when it comes to helping children deal with grief?

Children grieve for many reasons; it’s not always due to the death of a family member. Any big change in the child’s life can make that child feel the pain of loss – this could be moving to a new home, changing schools, divorce, a friend moving away, or anything that creates a change with a difficult transition. 

What Is The Grieving Process?

The grieving process is different for everyone. Even two children who experience the death of a parent or grandparent experience their own grief differently. Some may be in denial for a long time before processing the loss. Others may slip into a depressive state. It’s also very common to go back and forth from “okay” to depressed throughout a period of time.

Grief from loss can come at any point, at a memorial service or even months after. It can be present after achieving a milestone, like high school graduation, or by something simple like a birthday. In many cases, younger children may not grieve a loss until much later when they realize they can no longer have a relationship with a loved one who passed.

Risk Factors

There’s no way to predict a sudden, traumatic event. There’s also no way to predict how your child will react to it. However, certain factors put your child at risk for a more serious response.

If your child is already struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health disorder, they are more likely to have a serious reaction. Similarly, if there is any family history of a mental health disorder, that also determines the likelihood of developing one themselves and needing professional help.

Residential treatment facility at Meridian.

Help For Your Grieving Child at Meridian

Help your kids cope in a healthy way by talking with the mental health professionals at Meridian HealthCare. Grief counseling is offered for kids ages eight and older.

Boardman Office

8255 South Ave
Youngstown, OH 44512
Phone: 330-797-0070

Poland Office

2894 Center Rd.
Poland, OH 44514
Phone: 330-797-0070

Meridian Campus

527 North Meridian Road
Youngstown, OH 44509
Phone: 330-797-0070

Warren Office

320 High Street, NE
Warren, OH 44481
Phone: 330-318-3873

Treatment Options

One of the most important ways to help your child’s understanding of death and grief is to have them talk through their own feelings. Learning coping skills and how to express feelings is the best way to move past the transition and loss. 

Grief Counseling

The main goal of grief counseling is helping children cope with the loss. Everyone grieves in their own way, but counseling with a mental health professional helps them understand their own feelings and behaviors so that they can develop coping strategies.

Support Groups

For older children, support groups can be extremely helpful. In these group sessions, adolescents can express feelings to others who understand what they’re going through. Led by a mental health professional, support groups allow bereaved children to talk through their problems and feelings with their peers so they feel less alone.

Warning Signs

It is completely normal for your child to struggle their way through their grief. It can take weeks, months, or even years before their child learns how to cope with their emotions.

As a caregiver, pay attention to these PTSD and depression warning signs that indicate your child needs professional help to process their grief.

    • Change in appetite
    • Loss of interest in activities
    • Change in weight
    • Suddenly clingy with loved ones
    • Decreased academic performance
    • Withdrawal from friends and family members
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Behavioral changes
    • Headaches or stomach aches
    • Bedwetting
    • Emotional regression to an earlier developmental stage
Sad child

Help Your Child Feel Better With Meridian

Losing a loved one or going through a significant change can be hard on anyone, especially younger children and adolescents.

At Meridian HealthCare, our compassionate mental health professionals are trained in properly helping children deal with grief. Call Meridian today to schedule your appointment or make a referral.

When you’re ready to call, we’re ready to help.

*If this is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

What do current and recovering patients have to say about Meridian?

Without the help I got from Meridian, I would be dead. I’m so grateful to them for everything they did. Thanks to Meridian, I got my life back.

They actually care. Meridian helped me with my recovery. Really, they saved my life.

My Meridian counselor was the BEST ever. You should never hesitate to ask if you need help — they are great.

I had a great experience at Meridian. They are the best out there for drug and mental health issues.