Just like adults, every child grieves differently. However, the below are general sibling grief tips for children to help your child process their grief in a healthy way. Additionally, we hope these tips will help you understand what to expect from your living children as they grieve their sibling.
Keep Their Schedules and Routines as Normal as Possible
If you can, continue to send your child to school, keep bedtime routines consistent, etc.
Share with Other Caregivers, Family, and Friends How You Explained Death to Your Child
It will be helpful for your child to hear consistent messages from others. Sharing with others how you explained death to your child will help the other adults in your child’s life support your message.
Your Child May Experience Some Regression
A child who has long since gotten over separation anxiety, for example, may become overly clingy again. Don’t worry about addressing that behavior specifically in the short term. It is likely to resolve as your child processes the loss.
Set Limits for Behaviors
While some regression is normal, it will be important for you and your child’s other caregivers to continue to set limits for what is acceptable behavior.
Your Child May Start Playing “Dying” or “Funerals” etc.
You may start to notice that your child’s imaginative play now includes things like babies or stuffed animals dying or going to funerals. This is a completely normal way for children to process these big concepts.
Use Books to Help
There are a number of books that can help provide you with language to talk to your kids or help your kids understand death. We have cultivated a list for all ages of books on death and grief for children and books on losing a sibling for children to help you start.
Drawing or Journaling May Help
Depending on the age of your surviving child(ren), drawing and journaling can be a helpful outlet for them to process their feelings. Encourage them to work through thoughts and feelings in this way.
Mental Health Support
An simple way to find resources for mental health support for your child is by reaching out to his or her school. School counselors can provide resources for your child and family. If your child isn’t yet in school, the school district may have community education resources that would still be helpful, such as Parents as Teachers. Pediatricians may also be able to offer referrals for counseling support.
Take Care of Yourself
While taking care of a living child can be a welcome distraction, it is important that you also take the time to process your grief. Ask for help from family, friends or professionals, to give you the space to process your own grief.