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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Children Bereavement

A child’s reaction to grief can be very different than that of an adult. According to the National Institutes of Health, a child’s grief may be influenced by his or her age, personality, developmental stage, experiences with death, and his or her relationship with the deceased. The surroundings, cause of death and family members’ ability to communicate with one another after the death can also affect grief.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Bereavement
Extensive listing of resources. Site is hosted by the National Library of Medicine.

Children’s Memorial Hospital (Chicago): Children and Grief
Outlines the phases of grief and suggests steps parents and caregivers can take to help.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Children and Grief
Describes childhood responses to grief and signs that a child is having trouble coping.

Nemours Foundation: Helping Your Child Deal with Death
Provides practical suggestions on talking with children about death and including them in funerals and mourning rituals.

American Hospice Foundation
Factsheets on helping children cope with specific losses (e.g., the death of a loved one serving in the military or the loss of a parent to cancer).


  • “Death and Mourning.” Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health : Infancy through Adolescence, pp. 555-558. Krapp K and Wilson J, eds. 2006. Available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at  http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library  
  • Motherless daughters : the legacy of loss. Edelman H. 2006.
  • Counseling children and adolescents through grief and loss. Fiorini J. 2006
  • This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss. Ellis T. 2006.
  • Your Healing Journey Through Grief: A Practical Guide to Grief Management. Cornils S. 2003.
  • Guiding Your Child through Grief. Emswiler M. 2000.
  • Magical Thoughts of Grieving Children: Treating Children with Complicated Mourning and Advice for Parents. Fogarty JA. 2000.

Journal Articles

  • “Loss and Bereavement: A Child's Perspective.” International Journal of Palliative Nursing. June 2007. 13(6):256.
  • “Bereavement Support for Children.” The Journal of School Nursing. August 2007. 23(4):241.


The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families maintains a national directory of support groups and resources for grieving children and teens. It is available online at: http://www.dougy.org/.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the  Health Learning Center  at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 2, 2011