Coping with grief following the death of a loved one is particularly challenging and often confusing for children and teenagers.
Grieving children may feel numb and angry at the same time, while also dealing with both excess energy and exhaustion.
No two children or teens react to grief in the same way, but there are a variety of coping strategies, resources and activities to support children through their grief journey.
Activities may also be useful when supporting children and teens through anniversaries and significant events relating to a family member’s death.
My Tangled Ball of Grief
A helpful grief activity for children is to create their own tangled ball of grief art. All you need is paper and either markers, crayons or coloured pencils.
Your child can create a key and then choose a different colour to represent each different emotion to then draw their own tangled ball of grief.
You can also use this art activity to talk with your child about what colours are most prominent, and why.
Print this page and your child writes what they are thankful for on each heart. Younger children can draw what they are thankful for. Cut out the hearts and place them on the refrigerator, put them in a bowl, or keep them in your pockets. Read them together each morning as you begin your day. This activity is helpful for grieving children as it builds gratitude and appreciation.
A meaningful activity for grieving kids is to create a memory box.
You can use a shoebox or another box, decorate it and fill it with memorable items such as cards, drawings, personal items and photographs.
Your child may want to continue adding memories to the box as time goes by.
This is a great way to support children through the grief process by dedicating some time to fondly remember the person who has died.
When kids of any age are going through the grieving process, they will experience a range of emotions, including anger and frustration. Sometimes instead of wanting to talk, they may just feel like screaming.
This can be appealing to children and easily made with things you’ll likely have around the house.
Using an empty box, such as a cereal box, fill it with crumpled paper (e.g., paper towel, newspapers) and close the top of the box.
Using a paper towel tube, mark a circle on the top of the box and then cut out the hole.
Tape the paper towel tube to the hole and decorate the box. When you’re ready, scream into the box!
Jar of Memories
A meaningful activity for grieving children is to create a jar of happy memories.
Together with your child, write down your favourite memories of the special person who died.
Place the memories notes in a jar. Randomly take a memory out of the jar to remember the person.
It can also be helpful to read the memories out loud together.
When a child has lost a family member, a healthy way for them to grieve and manage their emotions is to use creativity and art.
By taking the name of their loved one who died, children are encouraged to reflect on the positive qualities of their loved one.
- Write down the person’s name vertically on the left side of a piece of paper.
- Write descriptive words using the first letter of the word.
- Encourage children to be creative and use colours, glitter and other crafts.
A meaningful activity for grieving children and teens is to create a memory bracelet to represent their loved one.
Using objects like beads and jewellery can be a good way for a child to tell a story about their loved one.
It is also something they can wear when they are missing their loved one. Different colours could represent different emotions, or memories, or anything else they wish to convey.
For more information about the bereavement programs, grief activities and support we offer to help grieving kids heal, click here.