Losing a loved one: Helping kids deal with grief


Losing a loved one is absolutely devastating, and grieving is a very real part of the healing process. But understanding the concept of life and death can be very confusing and scary for children, which is why it’s important to give them as much support as possible during times of loss. These local services and books are a great first place to start… 


Support Services

A Friend’s Place

The National Centre for Childhood Grief (NCCG) provides loving support in a safe place, where children grieving a death can share their experience, as they learn to live with its impact on their lives.

A Friend’s Place is part of the centre, and was established to address the needs of bereaved children and young people (3-18 years). It provides individual and group counselling for young people, support for care givers, advice for teachers and other care givers, and training and clinical supervision for professionals and volunteers.

This place is the best- they have online resources you can buy and also provide counselling- worth giving them a ring‘ – KT

It’s specifically set up for kids suffering loss. My kids benefited from it.’ – Lucy

  • Address: 14 Hollis Avenue, Denistone East
  • Phone: 1300 654 556
  • Website

Good Grief

Good Grief in North Sydney develops and support a range of evidence-based loss and grief education programs that help children, young people and adults to understand their experience and attend well to their grief following major loss experiences. They aim to provide people suffering loss with the knowledge and skills to help understand and attend to the pain of such experiences, so they have the best opportunity possible to live a full and productive life.

  • Address: Level 3, 12 Mount Street North Sydney
  • Phone: (02) 8912 2700
  • Website

Books for children

Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between

  • Author: Bryan Mellonie, Robert Ingpen (Illustrator)
  • Synopsis: Have you ever wondered why a butterfly lives for only a few weeks? Or why a tree lives for hundreds of year? You may have been sad when someone in your family, or a favourite pet became sick and died. There is a beginning and an ending to everything that is alive. In between is a lifetime. Dying is as much a part of living as being born.
  • Buy now

Badger’s Parting Gifts

  • Author: Susan Varley
  • Synopsis: The tale of a dependable, reliable and helpful badger who realises that his old age will soon lead to death. His friends learn to come to terms with his death in an enchanting tale. With full colour illustrations throughout.
  • Buy now

I Miss You, a First Look at Death

  • Author: Pat Thomas
  • Synopsis: This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one’s death. Kids are encouraged to understand personal feelings and social problems as a first step in dealing with them.
  • Buy now

The Heart and the Bottle

  • Author: Oliver Jeffers
  • Synopsis: Award-winning picture book star Oliver Jeffers explores themes of love and loss in this life-affirming and uplifting tale. Once there was a girl who was full of wonderment at how the world worked. She shared all her dreams and excitement with her father, who always had the answer to every question. That is until one day when his chair was empty, not to be filled again – how would she find the meaning of life now?
  • Buy now

Goodbye Grandma

  • Author: Melanie Walsh
  • Synopsis: A warm and reassuring lift-the-flap book to help very young children cope with bereavement. Gentle dialogue between a parent and child, using questions and answers, sensitively explores issues around death and bereavement.
  • Buy now

The Very Best of Friends

  • Author: Margaret Wild
  • Synopsis: Jessie and James live on a farm with lots of animals and a cat named William. James loves William but Jessie doesn’t – even though she tries. When James dies, Jessie is very upset. Gradually, as life goes on, she comes to discover that William can be her new very best friend.
  • Buy now

Always and Forever

  • Author: Alan Durant
  • Synopsis: When Fox dies the rest of his family are distraught. How will they go on without their beloved friend? But, months later Squirrel reminds them all of how funny Fox used to be, and they realise Fox is still there in their hearts and memories.
  • Buy now

I’ll Always Love You

  • Author: Hans Wilhelm
  • Synopsis: In this gentle moving story, Elfie, a daschund and her special boy progress happily through life together. One morning Elfie does not wake up. The family grieves and buries her. Warm and tender in colour and mood.
  • Buy now

The Wattle Tree

  • Author: John Bell
  • Synopsis: This is the story of Molly, a little girl who helps not only herself but her mother come to terms with the loss of Gran through connecting with the wattle tree at the bottom of the garden.
  • Buy now

No Matter What

  • Author: Debi Gliori
  • Synopsis: “I’m grim and grumpy” says Small to Large “and I don’t think you love me at all.” But nothing could be further from the truth, as Large knows just how to reassure Small in this this warm story about a parent’s endless capacity for love.
  • Buy now

Rabbityness

  • Author: Jo Empson
  • Synopsis: Rabbit enjoys doing rabbity things as well as un-rabbity things! When Rabbit suddenly disappears, no one know where he has gone. As it turns out Rabbit has helped them find some special talents of their own. A unique story of loss.
  • Buy now

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine

  • Author: Diana Crossley
  • Synopsis: This non-fiction book offers a structure and an outlet for the range of feelings one experiences when someone dies. It aims to help children make sense of their experience, while finding a balance between remembering and having fun.
  • Buy now

Sad Isn’t Bad

  • Author: Michaelene Mundy
  • Synopsis: This guidebook offers children of all ages a comforting, realistic look at loss – loaded with positive, life affirming ideas or coping with loss as a child.
  • Buy now

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

  • Author: Alan Silberberg
  • Synopsis: Because being the new kid in middle school isn’t bad enough, Milo also has to deal with the death of his mother. This novel for upper primary/lower secondary follows Milo as he tried to cope with his loss and be a “normal” kid. It is a sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt novel that explores how young people and families cope with loss.
  • Buy Now

Her Mother’s Face

  • Author: Roddy Doyle
  • Synopsis: A powerful story for older readers (upper primary/lower secondary) about a girl whose mother died when she was very young. It looks at loss, but also at the continuation of love and life after loss.
  • Buy now

Books for Teenagers

Weird Is Normal When Teenagers Grieve

  • Author: Jenny Lee Wheeler
  • Synopsis: This is a self-help book for grieving teens written by an actively grieving teen. Jenny validate
  • Buy now

Still Here With Me (teenagers and children on losing a parent)

  • Author: Suzanne Sjoqvist
  • Synopsis: A collection of stories by young people who have faced the death of a parent. Each child and young person creates a picture of their journey through grief with compassion and insight.
  • Buy now

Teenagers and Grief

  • Author: Doris Zagdanski
  • Synopsis: As the title suggests this book is especially for teenagers. It is a helpful read not only for those who are grieving but for those walking with the bereaved. In writing this book Doris has spoken with young people, aged between 12 and 21 years about their grief. The book explores their stories as well as coping styles and helping strategies.
  • Buy now

Teens, Loss & Grief

  • Author: Edward Myers
  • Synopsis: Teens, Loss, and Grief is a self-help guide for teenagers who are struggling with bereavement and the emotional difficulties it presents. This book provides an overview of grief as a painful but normal process, offering insights from bereavement experts as well as practical suggestions for coping with loss, including accounts from teens. This book closes a gap in the available literature on grief and bereavement that has tended to focus on adults and younger children. It provides a warm, accessible resource that will reassure teen readers about the normality of grief, encourages their understanding of what happens during the grief process, and provides an indispensable resource guide.
  • Buy now

Please share any other support services, books or suggestions in the comments for helping children cope with the death of a loved one.


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