By Cathy R. Blanford, M.Ed. –

Begin by taking care of yourself. If you do not have someone to be there for you, you may have difficulty being there for a child who needs you.

Include children in what is happening. Give them information in language that they can understand. Encourage them to be a part of things by visiting at the hospital, attending a wake, taking part in a funeral or memorial service.

Help children understand what has happened. Be willing to tell them the story again and again and to answer all of their questions. If you are unable to do this because of your own pain, be sure that another caring adult is available for this purpose. Avoid euphemisms such as: “She’s sleeping”, “He went on a long trip”, God took him because he was so good”, “We lost your baby brother”. Don’t be afraid to use the words “dead, dying, cancer, suicide, cremation,” etc. and to be sure children understand what these words mean. The truth is never as bad as the fantasies that children develop when they don’t have enough information.

Allow children to feel all of their feelings in a safe and protected environment. Let them see that you’re sad, too, and it’s okay to cry. Name the feeling when you see children acting out in an angry way. Help them find ways to express their anger that won’t hurt somebody else or themselves. Recognize that they are probably feeling guilty and assure them that it was no one’s fault. Help them to feel safe and to know that they will feel better again and that someone will always be there to care for them.

Recognize that while children certainly do grieve, their grief does not always look like an adult’s grief. Just because they run outside to play after being told that someone they love has died doesn’t mean they didn’t understand or that they should be left out of what’s happening. Children need to play; it’s their way of dealing with many of their feelings. When children have physical symptoms or difficulty separating from you, remember that this too may well be connected to their feelings of grief.

Support the child who regresses after a loss. This may be demonstrated by childish behavior that was given up long ago or by difficulties in school or with other children. Realize that this is a child’s way of showing you he is in pain and needs your loving support.

Remember that grief isn’t over within a day or a week or a month. Children, like adults, are likely to grieve for a long time. They may even feel worse rather than better as time goes by and they begin to fully comprehend that a loved one is not coming back. Be patient with their grieving and remember that it is a process.

Cathy Blanford, author of Something Happened, has had over 20 years of experience working with grieving children.   She  founded and directed the Children Grieve Too grief groups at Elmhurst Memorial Hospice. She then founded and is currently directing the Tommy’s Kids Support Group at St. Thomas Hospice in Burr Ridge, IL.

Cathy is also currently serving as a bereavement counselor for Still Missed, a support program for families who have experienced pregnancy loss. This program is a part of the Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in Hinsdale, IL. Cathy wrote Something Happened after seeing the need families have to explain a sudden infant loss to their surviving children.

She can be reached at or visit her website

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Monica Novak

Monica Novak became a bereaved mother in 1995 with the stillbirth of her daughter Miranda, learning firsthand the devastation of saying goodbye to a much-loved, much-wanted baby before having the chance to say hello. Three weeks later, she began a journey towards healing when she attended her first Share support group meeting. Along the way, she and six other bereaved mothers formed a close bond that carried them through the grief of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death, as well as the challenges of subsequent pregnancy and infertility. Having been at the opposite ends of grief and joy; despair and hope; indifference and compassion; fear and peace-sometimes simultaneously-she has captured these emotions and the story of her journey in a highly-praised new memoir titled The Good Grief Club. Monica writes and speaks on the subject of pregnancy loss and infant death and is involved with local and national organizations that provide support to families and caregivers. She is a member of the Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA). Her mission is to bring comfort and hope to bereaved parents worldwide and to educate and promote awareness to the physicians, nurses, clergy, counselors, family, and friends of every mother or father who has or ever will be told that their baby has no heartbeat or that nothing more can be done. The mother of three daughters, Monica lives in the Chicago area with her husband, children, and a rat terrier named Sami. For more information, please visit or e-mail Monica at Monica appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing ”Miscarriage and Infant Loss.” To hear Monica being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, go to the following link:

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