The Executive Director of Ryan’s Place, Aileac Deegan, speaks with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference about grief support for children and how service can be a great tool. Located in Indiana, the organization helps children who’ve suffered a loss by providing support and a listening ear. There’s no need to overdo anything or force children to talk. Making things available, offering suggestions, and being present are often what children need most. It doesn’t matter what you say to children for the most part, you must simply let them know they’re safe and loved.
It’s common for adults to get caught up in words. For children, knowing they’re in a safe and predictable world is key. If you’re a caregiver who’s worried about a child who doesn’t seem to be grieving, give them time. Some children may want to talk, and others don’t. Everyone grieves differently, and children can be particularly unique on a case by case basis.
Grief for Kids
Some kids will be closed off for awhile, and that’s also normal. Don’t worry if a child shifts quickly from being sad to playing. Kids will re-visit grief and don’t stay sad all the time. Children do it in increments and sound bites. Taking a break is critical so they don’t get completely overwhelmed. Adults can be offended, but it’s actually a sign of great coping skills.
Ryan’s Place has a website with online resources for those outside of Indiana. It’s a center available to all who are helping kids find hope after loss. If you have any questions or want to reach Ryan’s Place, a team of professionals is standing at the ready. Know that you don’t have to do this alone, and that helping children grieve can be an arduous task.