Loss is never easy, especially for children. Their comprehension of death is limited, and children are only capable of understanding and coping with death to a certain extent. It’s likely the first time they’re confronting death in their own life, so know that this is a new concept with new emotions to guide your child through.
Outside of comprehending death, grief affects children differently than adults, especially depending on the child’s development stage or age. For example, some children may have a loss of interest in daily activities, while others may respond by developing new fears.
Similar to fully developed adults, every child will experience grief differently and at different times, so it’s important to have resources for them to turn to in time of need.
To work through feelings of sadness and loneliness and to help kids understand death and grief, we outline five books to gift grieving children below. Each book, although different, helps children understand why death occurs, and offers ways to cope with grief and loss.
1. “I Miss You: A First Look at Death” by Pat Thomas
Following the loss of a loved one, your children or grandchildren may experience a multitude of emotions. To help ease the pain of grief, purchase “I Miss You: A First Look at Death.”
With simple and direct storylines, this book explains how death is a natural part of life, and provides examples of how people express grief in different ways.
2. “The Elephant in the Room: A Children’s Book for Grief and Loss” by Amanda Edwards
With whimsical illustrations and rhyming verses, “The Elephant in the Room” can help children face grief with practical and realistic coping strategies.
Packed with messages of love and power, this book can serve as a tool in a child’s unique journey towards healing.
3. “Where Do They Go?” by Julia Alvarez
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief, it’s likely a child who is connected to the loss is as well.
If he or she has questions about their loved one, check out “Where Do They Go?” at your local library or bookstore. The beautifully crafted picture book addresses the emotional side of death through poems for children of all ages.
4. “I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand: A Guide to Grief and Loss” by Pat Palmer
Grief comes in all forms, and it may not necessarily have to do with death. For instance, perhaps your child’s best friend just moved across the country, and he or she is mourning that relationship.
“I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand” helps children identify feelings of anger, denial and grief, and suggests healthy coping mechanisms. This warm and comforting book has everything you need to initiate conversations about loss with your child.
5. “The Saddest Time” by Norma Simon
If your child has recently lost a grandparent, a close classmate, friend or immediate family member, “The Saddest Time” may help your child process their feelings despite difficult circumstances.
With three short stories in one, this matter-of-fact book helps children talk about death by depicting real-life scenarios of loss and love.
Get Access to Even More Grief Resources for Children
In addition to the books above, we encourage all grieving families and their children to download the complimentary guide, Youth & Funerals: Understanding the Important Role Funerals and Memorialization Play in the Lives of Youth. This guide will uncover suggestions for youth preparedness, empowerment and involvement in memorialization.