Recognizing a Child’s Grief

Children and adults grieve differently.
— Maria Trozzi

Many factors shape the grief responses of children. Understanding elements of how children cope with death is key to “being with” grief in a way that supports moving forward. Adults who share life with children of loss have a profound impact.  Understanding how death touches uniquely the lives of children at different ages and stages of development has an equally powerful effect upon that child’s ability to make sense of and cope with the experience.

Maria Trozzi (1999) in Talking with Children about Loss, an invaluable classic for the therapeutic community and parents alike, tells us:

  • A child’s grief looks shorter, but lasts longer.
  • Children grieve in spurts.
  • A child will re-grieve, re-living the impact of a loss through out childhood and beyond.
  • Bereaved children have many questions and require adults who respond with honesty, understanding, compassion and courage. 

How does a child make sense of the sudden, violent death of a sister, brother, mother or father?  The sorrow following such a loss turns families inside out.  Located in the greater Boston area, there is a very special resource whose sole purpose is to provide services for children experiencing such a tragedy.  This place, where children and families can come “To Be”, is located in Framingham, Ma. It’s called Jeff’s Place.

Jeff’s Place has a vision: No Child Grieves Alone.

Jeff’s Place truly provides hope for grieving families. How does a mother or father help children cope with the loss of their parent?  Where are the instructions for managing grief over the loss of one’s child? How can parents help their children understand and endure sorrow when they are shattered by this same loss?  Where can help be found for a little boy whose brother or sister, Mother or Father has died?

Try as we might to hurry through the experience, Grieving takes time. Grieving takes energy.

Children dealing with the stunning trauma of losing a beloved family member find meaningful support and contact at Jeff’s Place. Death of a sibling or parent might be sudden and untimely or following a lingering illness. Children have a place where “the space is held” for all that can be experienced. Serving families across Ma, Jeff’s Place provides a rare and special service where a broken heart is held with love and care while being healed. Carefully tending to each child and parent with an abundance of love, courage and skill, all the energy and time in the world is freely given to those who grace their door.