Top tips to cope with Father's Day

Top tips to cope with Father’s Day

Father’s Day can be a difficult day for many children grieving the death of their dad or a significant male in their life.

Many people struggle to know what to say to a grieving child. It is through the fear of saying the wrong thing, they often say nothing at all, leaving the child feeling even more isolated and alone.

You may be wondering what the best way is to support grieving children during difficult times. The following tips may be useful this Father’s Day:

  1. Plan ahead

A reminder that Father’s Day is coming up is a helpful way to begin the conversation around what they want to do for it.

It is important to not assume you know what they will want. What they did last year might be exactly what they want to do again – or they might want to do something completely different. Similarly, some families may like to revisit old traditions, whereas others may like to invent something new for Father’s Day.

  • Provide Comfort

By simply taking the time to let a grieving child know that you are there and thinking of them, shows them that they are not alone this Father’s Day.

Grieving children often feel isolated from their friends and community. Others around them may not have experienced bereavement and loss like they have. They can feel detached and alone, especially on significant days like Father’s Day.

  • Consider different ways to express their feelings

If children don’t want to talk about their grief verbally, conversation and connection can be through drawing, craft, dance, poetry, play, images, and text messages.

Offer your child to write in a journal throughout the day. You might also want to offer your child a forum to connect with other family or friends who knew the loved one and share their memories of them

  • Listen

Father’s Day is an occasion that can bring powerful feelings to the surface. Some of these feelings might be isolation, anger, jealousy, and sadness. Some grieving kids might want to talk about their feelings, whilst others might try to express how they’re feeling through their behaviour.

It is important to listen to them and show them that what they are feeling is valid and completely normal. You might want to give your child ‘permission’ to not be okay, freeing them from expectations. Click here to read our blog on Managing Big Feelings this Father’s Day for more tips.

 We asked grieving kids from our Feel the Magic community to share what they would like their friends and family to say to them on Father’s Day. Here is what they said.

If you are supporting a bereaved child or know one, there is help available and a community that understands what you are going through.

Our mission at Feel the Magic is to ensure grieving kids, families, and their friends have the support and resources to help them feel and heal through their grief.

Our Grief Resource Hub has guides, activities, books, videos, and TED talks you may find helpful.

We have a range of face-to-face and virtual camps, so we can help grieving kids heal – no matter where they are.

If you would like to consider a donation this Father’s Day, please click here.

Father Day with Coby

“Father’s Day is a good day to me, I get to focus on Dad that day. Having him on my mind makes me feel better. In the lead-up to Father’s Day it can be scary, but on an actual day it’s usually really nice. I can feel him around me. I’m going to remember him by visiting a place in the Mountains we liked to go to. It’s a special place for us. To anyone else who has lost their dad, my advice is to use it as a way to dedicate a whole day to the person you love. Keep them on your mind and do things in memory of them.

Koby, Camp Magic Camper.

How to support a grieving child this father's day

Managing Big Feelings this Father’s Day

Experiencing anxious thoughts and feelings following a bereavement is both common, and to be expected. Significant days like Father’s Day can also bring up big feelings.

Grief can make a child or adolescent feel that they have lost their sense of safety and control in life.  Shock, longing, anger, guilt, sadness and anxiety are some of the big feelings that children and teens may experience when a loved one dies. Some of these big feelings may also resurface on Father’s Day.

The following ways might help manage big feelings this Father’s Day:

  1. Talk about those big feelings

Often anxious and difficult thoughts occur when there is something left unsaid or questions that need to be answered. Increased anxiety can also occur when children avoid thinking or talking about their bereavement or loved one.

It is crucial to encourage your child to open up to someone they can trust. Sharing emotions is an important part of the grieving process. If they find it hard to talk about their feelings, perhaps they could write them down or express them through art instead. 

  • Healthy eating, exercise and sleep

Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and having a good sleep routine are all important ways to help children function at their best.

If you find that your child is struggling with sleep due to feeling anxious or overwhelmed by their grief, try a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, doing a Hand on Heart meditation, or reading a book before bed.

  • The 54321 technique

If your child is feeling anxious, teach them the 5 4 3 2 1 technique. This grounding exercise encourages them to notice what is around them by naming:

5 things you can see (e.g., window, car)

4 things you can feel (e.g., shoes on my feet, the chair on my back)

3 things you can hear (e.g., the rain, someone talking)

2 things you can smell(e.g., dinner cooking)

1 thing that helps you can taste

This technique can help to calm your child’s anxious thoughts by bringing them back to what is around them in the moment.

  • A helpful sentence

The most effective time to teach your child helpful strategies to deal with big feelings associated with their grief is when they are already feeling calm and regulated.

Before Father’s Day help your child to think of a helpful sentence, such as “I will be okay, I have been okay before, and I will be okay now”. When your child notices that they are becoming anxious encourage them to say their sentence out loud. They should try and repeat this sentence, not just at times of heightened anxiety, but when they are feeling calm so they can solidify it and can access it more easily when they are feeling worried.

Remember that whilst big feelings and emotions are a normal part of the grieving process, if you feel that your child’s life is significantly impacted to the point where they find it hard to do their usual day-to-day activities, then it is important to reach out and seek professional help and support. Here is a link to our recommended organisations and support services.

As a parent, it is important to seek guidance as you try to help a grieving child or adolescent. If you are supporting a bereaved child or know one, there is help available and a community who understand what you are going through.

Our mission at Feel the Magic is to ensure grieving kids, families and their friends have the support and resources to help them feel and heal through their grief.

Our Grief Resource Hub has guides, activities, books, videos and TED talks you may find helpful.

We have a range of face-to-face and virtual camps, so we can help grieving kids heal – no matter where they are.

Read our top 5 Tips this Father’s Day

Make a donation this Father’s Day

“My 3 kids lost their father 18 months ago, so we are coming up to their second Father’s Day without their Dad. It was a really tricky time leading up to the day, especially for my youngest who was still in Primary school. The focus around Father’s Day at Primary school with Father’s Day craft and the school Father’s Day store, was really hard for her to navigate. Keeping up the communication with her class teacher helped as she was aware of the sensitivity around Father’s Day and made adjustments for her at school to ensure she felt supported.

I really try to follow the kid’s lead for Father’s Day and ask them how they would like to remember their dad on the day. Last year we spent the day together at a special place that they liked to go to with their dad. Just having that time together where we can remember him, talk about happy memories, and be present for each other is really important in keeping us connected”.  Camper parent (Mum), Katrina

three women and a boy sitting around a table. One lady is smiling the boy is resting is head in his hands on the table

A Guide for Parents with Grieving Children

Parenting children through the hard time following the death of a loved one isn’t easy, and there’s no one approach to help your children heal.

In the days, months, and years following your loved one’s death, your children will experience a range of emotions as they grieve. Here you will find a guide to help your children process these emotions in a healthy way.

Create Open Communication Between You and Your Children

Death is difficult to process for both children and adults, which is why we often struggle to talk about it openly. Although, starting these conversations with your children is a very important step in their path to healing.

Talking is a great way to work through complex emotions. Every child is different so you should expect each of your children to have different reactions to the loss of a loved one. They may not want to open up to you immediately and that’s okay.

The best thing you can do is to create an environment in which they know they can talk to you as soon as they feel ready. Here are some things you can do to help your children feel safe:

  • Be honest: When talking about death with your children, avoid euphemisms and answer any questions your children have about the death honestly. You may think hiding small details will protect your children, but when they find out the truth, there is a chance you will lose their trust. Being honest with your children will help them be honest with you.
  • Be open: Telling your children about how you’re feeling is a great way to start open dialogue about thoughts and feelings. Talking about your own feelings may help your children become aware of, and feel comfortable with theirs.
  • Give comfort: No matter how your children react to the death of their loved one, letting them know that you’re there for them and you love them will comfort them greatly. Offer hugs and handholding so they can be comforted without feeling like they’re being forced to talk.

Organise Activities To Keep You Connected

Organising family time is a great way to keep your family connected through your individual experiences with grief. There are many activities you can do together as a family, from movie nights to a bonfire, we have compiled a list of our favourite connection activities along with instructions on how to run them, which you can find here.

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s understandable to want to dedicate all of your energy to supporting your children, but you also need to focus on yourself as you’re grieving too. Grief is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, and to best support yourself and your children you should practice self-care. You can practice self-care by:

  • Making room for yourself: Allow yourself the space and time to grieve by taking time out and allowing others to take on some of your responsibilities.
  • Preparing yourself for others’ reactions: People are often uncomfortable talking about death, so they may become distant or try to comfort you with cliches. These reactions can be hurtful but try to keep in mind that your friends and family are doing the best they can.
  • Connecting with others: Social support is key to emotional well-being, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to connect with your social support system – they will be able to provide you with the understanding and care you need.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Although grief can feel isolating, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone – you are surrounded by a community you can lean on for support.

No matter where you and your child are in your grief journey, reaching out for help is always okay. If you need immediate help or wish to learn more about other grief organisations that can offer you support, we have created a list of other organisations that exist to support people’s mental well-being and grief. You can also join our grief community if you wish to connect with other families who understand what you are going through. 

At Feel the Magic, we are dedicated to helping grieving kids heal. We have virtual and face-to-face camps designed by clinical psychologists and run by trained professionals to give kids and parents the tools they need to connect with their emotions and each other.

Our programs encourage healthy grieving and introduce families to a supportive community that understands. For more information or to register your interest in our camps, please contact us.

Adult and two children kneeling down talking in the outdoors

What is Happening to the Brain During Grief

After the death of a loved one, you may experience many changes in your mental and emotional state of mind. Grief affects the brain in many ways, causing changes in memory, behaviour, sleep, and body function2

Completing routine or simple tasks may seem overwhelming, impossible or might take longer than usual. When you are grieving, your brain is overloaded with thoughts and your memory, concentration, and cognition are all affected, leaving little room for everyday tasks. Grief has such a powerful effect on us, it rewires the brain.

What is grief?

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it is a normal protective process2. Grief involves our emotions, thoughts, behaviours, and physiology. You can experience grief in relation to the death of a loved one (called bereavement) but you can also grief in relation to change and loss, such as grief after a significant relationship ends, or grief after changes to your role in life, such as retirement.

 Grief can also lead to cognitive impacts, such as brain fog. So, lots of different parts of the brain are orchestrating this experience that we have when we feel grief 1

What is happening to the brain during grief?

In response to traumatic events like the death of a loved one, the brain creates connections between nerves and strengthens or weakens existing connections depending on the duration and degree of the emotional response2

A process called neuroplasticity occurs, whereby the brain rewires itself in response to emotional trauma, which has profound effects on the brain, mind and body 2 After a loss, the body releases hormones and chemicals reminiscent of a “fight, flight or freeze” response. The pathways you relied on for most of your life take some massive, but mostly temporary, detours and the brain prioritizes the most primitive functions.

The brain regions affected by grief3

  1. The prefrontal cortex – The decision-making, reasoning and control part of the brain becomes underactive. The limbic system, which is all about survival, takes over.
  2. The anterior cingulate cortex – The emotional regulation part of the brain becomes underactive
  3. The amygdala – The fear part of the brain becomes overactive

Create reasonable expectations

It is important to be gentle and patient with yourself during this time. It may be unreasonable or impossible to expect to complete your normal tasks as you did before your loved one died. Be mindful about setting reasonable expectations and build form there.

When you can complete a task, give yourself a pat on the back and recognise it as a step towards healing. If large tasks are overwhelming, break them into smaller, more manageable chunks. You may also need to rely on strategies such as visual reminders, checklists, calendars and other supports, while your memory takes time to recover.

Healthy brain rewiring

Grief can reinforce brain wiring that effectively locks the brain in a permanent stress response. To promote healthy rewiring, you need to break the cycle. This can involve a whole range of creative and contemplative practices, from painting, to meditation, positive affirmations, or expressions of faith.

Aim small by accomplishing tiny goals which will offer you enough of a dopamine kick to reinforce behaviours. Also, remember that anything is better than nothing. If you find yourself stuck in the stress response, or find yourself avoiding things, consider getting help from a mental (, who can help you reframe your negative thoughts and find ways to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Even though grief has an effect on the brain, it may be helpful to follow strategies to help you navigate your way to a new normal. Feel the Magic offers grief education programs, camps and resources to help grieving children heal. Click here to enquire now.


1 Shear, K. M (2012) Grief and mourning gone awry: pathway and course of complicated grief, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14:2, 119-128, DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2012.14.2/mshear

2Shulman, L. M. (2021, September 29). Healing Your Brain After Loss: How Grief Rewires the Brain. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from

3Silva, A. C., de Oliveira Ribeiro, N. P., de Mello Schier, A. R., Arias-Carrión, O., Paes, F., Nardi, A. E., Machado, S., & Pessoa, T. M. (2014). Neurological aspects of grief. CNS & neurological disorders    drug targets, 13(6), 930–936.

Grieving the Loss of Someone Following a Difficult or Complicated Relationship

Grief has many layers when a relationship is healthy, but even more so when you have a complicated relationship with the person who died. While all grief is hard work, dealing with loss following a difficult relationship can be particularly complex to process.

Feelings and emotions

Following the death of someone who you had a strained relationship with, you might have contradictory, negative, or unexpected emotions. When someone was a source of pain and distress in your family, the remaining family may find it extremely difficult to process and manage grief in a healthy way that brings closure and peace. You may feel alienated because your experiences and your grief do not match the other stories of grief you see in your community,  however, it is important to remember that you are not alone.

Your initial feelings may be ones of relief, which can also lead to feelings of regret for feeling this way. You might mourn the way things were in the past, or feel sadness for what was missing. Other common emotions may include guilt over not trying harder to mend the relationship or avoidance of thinking about the person altogether. Perhaps you feel that the person’s death means the loss of hope for any reconciliation.

Common responses

Some common responses might be:

  • Numbness, shock, or lack of sadness over the loss
  • Happiness or relief that the source of stress and conflict is gone
  • Regret over what was missing and lack of reconciliation
  • Anger toward the person who’s gone or anger towards yourself
  • Grief even though others don’t ‘think’ you should be sad or because you feel you should not be sad

Remember that this is not a complete list. You may be feeling something entirely different, but know that whatever you’re feeling is normal.

Tips to manage your grief

If you’re faced with such a loss, here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Put away ideas of what you “should” be feeling. Every relationship is unique, and your grief will be unique too.
  • Find someone you can talk to openly about these difficult emotions. Sometimes those closest to us have the hardest time supporting us in grief. A mental health professional may give you the help you need to unpack and make sense of conflicting emotions.
  • Remember that it’s not too late to take care of “unfinished business” to move forward. Seek help with rituals or activities that promote healing. Journaling, letter writing, or another ritual of release might be helpful.
  • Know that it’s okay to remember the good and the difficult parts of the relationship as you grieve. Most relationships are a mixture of both.
  • Be gentle with yourself by eating well, moving your body some each day, and getting plenty of rest. Self-care goes a long way toward healing.

Grief can be an emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting process. In order to best support yourself through this difficult time, self-care needs to become a priority. Click here to access resources for parent self-care in our Grief Resource Hub.

For more information about the bereavement programs, activities and support we offer at Feel the Magic, click here.

Two people standing smiling in a park amongst greenery

Understanding Children’s Grief: How It Differs from Adults and What You Can Do to Help

Although they will feel it just as deeply, children will experience and express grief in different ways to adults. Even though a parent and child may have experienced the same loss, the way they both grieve may differ and take varying amounts of time.

Children’s understanding of death is limited to their age and cognitive development, which, in addition to the unique challenges they face, manifests into vastly different grief journeys.

Children’s grief is often intermittent

Some children appear to grieve for shorter periods than adults and they also appear to go in and out of mourning, as a coping mechanism1. A clear difference between adults and children is that children’s grief is often intermittent and sometimes seemingly absent. This is usually a result of feeling overwhelmed by the powerful emotions that accompany their grief. On the other hand, grieving adults often maintain a continual awareness and experience of loss.

Feel the Magic offers camps, programs and resources to help grieving kids learn to better manage these overwhelming grief emotions. Children learn skills, tools and coping mechanisms to help them deal with grief. It might take them some time to process the death and to find ways to express themselves.

Children need reassurance and a sense of security

Children often need to feel comfortable, gain a sense of security and feel safe enough to begin grieving. Whilst most adults who’ve lost a loved one will also experience feelings of insecurity, they’re usually able to recognise that they will eventually be okay.

Children depend on a consistent caregiver to meet their basic needs. Grieving children need a place where they truly belong and can feel safe to explore their grief and heal. Feel the Magic offers children this sense of stability through a community and network of individuals who know exactly what they’re going through.

Different understandings of death lead to different grief reactions

As adults have a greater understanding of death, they are more mature in how they manage their grief. A  child’s grief reactions are related to his or her understanding of death, which in turn is related to the child’s developmental age or stage1. Grief in children and adolescents can differ from that in adults.

Common grief reactions in adults include emotional numbness, disbelief and yearning, whilst children and adolescents commonly experience strong emotions such as guilt, anger, shame and impulsivity. Younger children often express their grief behaviourally, rather than emotionally.

Challenges that come with grief

Bereaved children can face many challenges, such as coping with the loss of a loved one for the first time, adjusting to a disrupted family dynamic, and learning to cope with grief in unfamiliar settings, such as school.

Children will not only grieve the death of their loved one, but also the changes that the death brought about in their world. An adult cannot protect a child from the pain of loss, although creating a warm, safe and accepting environment will support their grief experience and create the foundation for healing.

Grief for children is cyclical

For both adults and children, it is normal to move between intense grieving and times of reprieve. However, children may swing back and forth quicker and ‘jump’ in and out of their grief more frequently. Grief is a cyclical experience for children, and growing up with loss means that they may grieve multiple times throughout different developmental stages.

Adults and children do grieve differently. It is most important to remember that no matter the age or developmental stage of a grieving individual, everyone grieves differently and there is no wrong or right way to do so.

Feel the Magic supports grieving children and their families in navigating their unique grief journey. They learn vital skills, tools and coping mechanisms, and ultimately discover a place where they truly belong and can feel safe to explore their grief. Click here to learn more about the camps and programs we offer.


  1. Sveen, J., Eilegård, A., Steineck, G., & Kreicbergs, U. (2013). They still grieve-a nationwide follow-up of young adults 2-9 years after losing a sibling to cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 23(6), 658-664. doi: 10.1002/pon.3463