You can help kids who are bereaved. Dr. Gloria Horsley talks with Joe Primo of Good Grief. He provides programs to kids, teens, and young adults who’ve lost a parent or sibling. There are also groups for parents who have undergone a child loss. They work with 150 communities throughout New Jersey and raise awareness while advocating for the whole child. There are thousands of bereaved children in the northeast, and they need facts, honesty, and support after a loss. Caring adults who support them and talk openly is critical. Kids need to be able to express themselves freely without feeling pressured to talk.

Ultimately, grieving kids need to know they’re not alone but at the same time know that the people in their lives who love them continue to love them. Communication is critical. It sounds cheesy, but love goes a really long way. Kids often get a lot of pressure to talk because that’s what some adults think everyone “needs.” However, everyone grieves in different ways. People get scared of the “should nots” but it shouldn’t be that way. That immobilizes grief.

Kids and Grief

Focus on what you should be doing, which is largely listening. Some children play out their emotions. The human experience includes grief—it’s not a pathology. Being real is what speaks to children, and they’ll pick up on it. If adults are real, kids will trust you. Being a philosopher isn’t real to children because it doesn’t mirror their experience.

How is the experience impacting the child through the process? You don’t need to tell kids “This is what you need to do,” according to Primo. Instead, help them make good choices for themselves, but remember there’s no one way to grieve.



Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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