Activities to help Children Process Grief: Interview with Dr. Natalie Carlos

At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Dr. Natalie Carlos, who works in the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, about her work with children and grief.

Natalie got into this field after being motivated and inspired by her own personal experience. Natalie’s mom died after a two-year battle with cancer when Natalie was just nine years old.

After that, Natalie realized how long and difficult the process of grieving is. That motivated her to go into the field of psychology and work with others who are grieving or going through a traumatic event like the loss of a parent.

In the video below, Natalie gives tips on how to help children process the grief they are experiencing.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • There are a lot of things to know about kids. It’s especially important to know that, unlike adults, kids don’t have language to express their emotions and what they’re feeling.
  • You will often times notice changes in a child’s behavior when dealing with grief, both at home, at school, and in their relationships with others. This is because it’s the first time they’re experiencing such intensity in their emotions.
  • With kids, you can use a lot of play therapy techniques to have them share their story. You can get kids to talk about what they’re going through while they play, as well as through art.
  • Natalie’s advice to parents is to be open about your kids’ experience and normalize what they’re going through. It’s important to note that kids experience grief, but they grieve in their own way depending on their developmental stage.
  • Acknowledge the pain and check in to see how your kids are doing. Ask them if they miss the relative they lost and share memories with your kids.
  • If you see kids struggling and having a difficult time with grief, to the point where it’s impacting their daily lives, then it’s important to refer your child to a therapist who can provide more support.

For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.

Gloria Horsley

More Articles Written by Gloria

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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