Linda Goldman discusses how to talk to children about grief with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. Goldman authored Great Answers to Difficult Questions about Death for parents, and a children’s book called Children Also Grieve. As an expert in grieving and children, Goldman says the books are important for parents and professionals alike. How do you answer children’s questions? The reality is that a child’s question is a mirror to their soul and inner self. For example, one child asked, “What do you think heaven is?”

By asking the same question back, together they drew a picture of heaven featuring Elvis with her mom and amazing food spreads. Goldman also does “memory work” to help children remember, such as creating a box to remember their parent. Ask a child, “What are the things you worry about the most?” then work with them to solve these problems together. For instance, one little girl said she worried because her dad didn’t wear his seatbelt, so together Goldman and the young patient wrote a letter asking Dad to wear a seatbelt for safety.

Grief at All Ages

“If a child asks a question, it’s because they’ve formulated some kind of idea already in their mind,” notes Dr. Horsley. Children can feel neglected if they ask a question and don’t get an answer. However, it’s difficult for many adults to find the right words to talk to kids. However, like Mr. Rogers says, “What is mentionable is manageable.” Finding age-appropriate answers is key.

Kids often worry if a person suffered in death. You may not know, but you can find out what a child imagines happens. Oftentimes, it can be much worse than reality. This was especially true of children who lost parents in war or in 9/11.

Linda Goldman

Linda Goldman has a Fellow in Thanatology: Death, Dying, and Bereavement (FT) with a Master of Science in counseling and Master's equivalency in early childhood education. Linda is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. She worked as a teacher and counselor in the school system for almost 20 years. Currently, she has a private grief therapy practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She works with children, teenagers, families with prenatal loss and grieving adults. Linda shares workshops, courses and trainings on children's grief and trauma and teaches as adjunct faculty in the Graduate Program of Counseling at Johns Hopkins University and King’s University College in Ontario, Canada. She has also taught on the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Social Work/Advanced Certification Program for Children and Adolescents and lectured at many other universities including Pennsylvania State University, Buffalo School of Social Work, University of North Carolina, the National Transportation Safety Board, the University of Hong Kong, and the National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan as well as numerous schools systems throughout the country. She has taught on working with LGBT youth and working with children's grief and trauma at Johns Hopkins Graduate School, the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the Child Welfare Administration. Linda is the author of “Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children” and “Breaking the Silence: a Guide to Help Children with Complicated Grief”. Her other books include “Bart Speaks Out: An Interactive Storybook for Young Children On Suicide”, “Helping the Grieving Child in the School”, and a Chinese Edition of “Breaking the Silence: A Guide to Help Children With Complicated Grief”, the Japanese Edition of “Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children”, and "Raising Our Children to Be Resilient: A Guide for Helping Children Cope with Trauma in Today’s World" and a children’s book “Children Also Grieve”, Chinese translation of “Children Also Grieve” and “Coming Out, Coming In: Nurturing the Well Being and Inclusion of Gay Youth in Mainstream Society”. She has also authored contributing chapters in resources including Loss of the Assumptive World (2002), Annual Death, Dying, and Bereavement (2001-2007), Family Counseling and Therapy Techniques (1998), and The School Services Sourcebook: A Guide for School-Based Professionals (2006). She has written many articles, including Healing Magazine’s “Helping the Grieving Child in the Schools” (2012), “The Bullying Epidemic, Creating Safe Havens for Gay Youth in Schools” (2006), “Parenting Gay Youth” (2008), “Talking to Kids About Suicide” (2014), “Helping Kids Cope with Grief of Losing a Pet” (2014) and “What Complicates Grief for Children: A Case Study” (2015). Some of her articles on Children's Grief and trauma have been translated into Chinese for the Suicide Prevention Program of Beijing. She appeared on the radio show Helping Gay Youth: Parents Perspective (2008) and has testified at a hearing before the MD Joint House and Senate Priorities Hearing for Marriage Equality (2007) and the MD Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (2008).

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