Jesse Roberts: Child Grief

The author of Katie the Ladybug: Explaining Emotions of Grief to a Child, Jesse Roberts, discusses his own losses with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. He helps children embrace honesty when talking about death, and points out that sensitive information can and should be concretely shared. Roberts lost both of his parents, and wrote the book as a creative way to explain grief. He was four when he lost his mother, and years later found there was little material out there to help adults talk about grief with a child.

Whether it’s a parent, caregiver, teacher, or other trusted adult, these adults need the right materials and tools to help a child through grief. While therapists are sometimes trained in this field, most adults are at a loss and don’t know how to start these conversations with children. Roberts suggests not trying to sugar coat the truth because that can just confuse kids.

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It can be especially difficult for adults to talk to children about grief if they are also grieving a loss. In this case, it can be best to bring in an unbiased third party to help everyone through the grieving process. For Roberts, he says he’s had plenty of support along his own grief journey and he’s very thankful for that—however, others aren’t as lucky. It’s up to the person grieving to reach out and build their support networks.

Of course, children don’t have that option. That’s another rung on the recovery ladder that adults can help with: Identifying support for children. In today’s world, many kids (teens) are going online or using social media to rally support around themselves. Adults should keep an eye on how children are getting support to ensure it’s in a safe manner.

Gloria Horsley

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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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