Parenting While Grieving

Parenting is not an easy vocation to start but when extra issues in life pile up, then parenting can become even more difficult.  When stressors, losses, illness, or problems arise, parents still need to be able to fulfill their duties to their children. There are no days off when it comes to helping the kids with school, taking them places, cooking, caring and spending time with them but sometimes parents can feel the weight of life, especially during loss and grief.  When grieving and mourning enter into a parent’s life, mother or father do not have the luxury to call off work, or not the children to school, or skip dinner or not wash clothes.  Parents are called to march forward.  This is critical but it can also be bad for grieving and mental health.

Parenting is challenging but when a parent is grieving it is even more difficult. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


The mental health for a parent is extremely important.  Like in an airplane, when the steward or stewardess explains that in an emergency, adults should place the oxygen mask on first before applying to a child, it is for a reason.  If a parent falls, the child or children will also fall.  So while duty is critical, it is also critical for parents to find the space and time needed to grieve or mourn.  In this blog, we will look closer at the difficult times, when parents have to grieve and still perform at high levels for the welfare of their children.

Mental Health and Support

In times of loss, mental health care and support are so important.  While to many of us, our parents appeared as super powered beings, the reality is they suffered the same emotions we suffer as adults.  They had good and bad days.  They did not always choose the right decision and had to learn the hard way and they also dealt with loss.  As younger children, we may not have noticed this, or maybe even very rarely, but our childhood image of our parents is due to their excellent ability to care.  Unfortunately, some individuals may have negative experiences with parents.  Their parents may have fallen victim to drinking and abuse, or vanished when loss occurred.  They may have spoken nothing of loss or pain and hid it to their own detriment.

For some, family support is available, for others it is lacking. However, the importance of a family that can grieve together and communicate cannot be over emphasized


Our experiences with our parents can easily shape our own when parenting-for good and bad.  It is important when grieving to find a balance.  It is OK to show vulnerability to a child but also to ensure that the child still feels secure.   So when dealing with grief and loss, parents need to be able to balance their own feelings and the need to maintain the security and welfare of their children.  This involves allowing oneself time to mourn.  The grief needs to be processed and experienced. If the grief persists and intensifies, then one should seek help from a grief counselor, and if it becomes pathological, one should seek the aid of a licensed professional counselor,

Some parents have better support than others.  Some have a spouse to help lean on, while others have a bigger family to share the grief.  Some parents though may be single parents, or have little or no family support.  They may be over worked and have a full schedule that prohibits time.  These over bearing responsibilities may compound the grief.  So while some may be able to find the help they need or take time off, others live in a colder reality.  Whether blessed, supported or alone and over worked, one can still find basic help services and as well as find time.  Time may need carved out of the day, but one needs to find the time to process the loss, mourn, and be able to express it outwardly.  If one does not find time to re-generate, whether through a walk, meditation, spiritual journey, exercise, or a discussion with a good friend, then the grief will only become stronger and parental burnout may occur.

Sharing Emotion within the Family Unit

Families may tend to be overtly open with emotion or introvert in regards to expressing it.  Grief myths that dictate time schedules, or expression of grief, or sharing grief with children, can only fracture the family unit more.  Instead, express grief with a spouse, or the children.  Communicate that daddy or mommy are very sad.  Reassure to the children that this will not affect their security but share with them the reality that you are going through grief and loss.  This is an excellent way for children to learn to express empathy.  Children will hug and listen and in their own way express grief too.  The grief may very well be affecting not just you but the children as well.  Hence it is important to discuss the loss and include the children in discussion of the loss with real and concrete words about the nature of death.  Let the children partake in rituals and ceremonies and allow them to comfort you.

Communicating feelings and grief not only helps the parent but also teaches the child empathy and proper grieving and coping


For most parents, the loss in all probability is of a parent, or tragically a sibling.  These types of losses are extremely painful and children will also experience a shared loss.  While it may be your parent you lost, it still their grandparent.  Hence, it is important to share grief with the child or children and both mutually heal from each other.  This not only helps heal but it also passes on good mourning skills.  Many children inherit bad mourning skills.  They learn to hide emotion, or turn to improper coping methods to curb grief through imitation of mom or dad.

Families can also grow together closer through grief.  While also expressing, they can also memorialize loss and remember together the person over time.  In addition, they can build relationships that are stronger through this shared experience of loss.  Parents can be good grieving examples to their children and children can be good and empathetic listeners when they are permitted into a circle.  Excluding them can have negative effects on yourself but also their development.

The Loss of a Child

If a mother miscarries, or the couple lose a child already born, this has life long ramifications.  It is in itself, its own blog, but this is when parents need to not only grieve for the loss but also help the child grieve the loss of his/her sibling.  It is so important to involve the child in the rituals and to let the child speak verbally or through play.  Monitoring the child and ensuring they are exhibiting no magical thinking is important.  If the child has guilt for the death, then it needs dismissed.  So while the parent grieves, the parent also is ensuring that the surviving child still heals properly from the loss.  Again this is why it is so critical that the family grieves together and proper grieving styles are passed on to the next generation.


Parenting not easy but when grief and loss are thrown into the middle, it becomes far more difficult.  Parents need to not only care for their own mental health but they also need to express loss and grief to their children to ensure security for the child but also an understanding of what grief is and how to share it and be empathetic.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification as well as its specialty program in Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling


Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, as well as its Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification and see if the programs meet your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.  The Child and Adolescent Grief Program is a specialty program that is only available for already those certified in Grief Counseling.

Additional Resources

“Can Parenting While Grieving Force You to Heal?”. Cytrynbaum, P. (2013).  Psychology Today.  Access here

“Parenting While Grieving”. Haley, E. (2015). Whats Your Grief.  Access here

“Grieving While Parenting”. Eiseman, J. (2019). Mental Health Match.  Access here

“Parenting while grieving”. Hetter, K. (2011). CNN.  Access here

Child and Adolescent Grief

Children and their brains are developing things hence the processing of grief is a developing thing and is understood at differently at various stages.  When loss occurs, one needs to understand the psychology of a child’s mind.  What point of development will dictate the level of understanding of the loss.  Hence in the field of child and adolescent grief, one can look at babies, toddlers, adolescents, and teenagers.  Each group interprets loss differently.   The idea of death also is different from age to age.  Some children are not able to comprehend the permanence of death until older.

Children grieve differently than adults. They understand loss differently and react differently.


Many times, parents and adults due to a better lack of understanding of children and how they process grief make poor decisions when loss occurs.  Adults and parents will sometimes hide death, or exhibit unhealthy grieving patterns themselves.  These types of behaviors can be detrimental to the child’s development.  Instead, one needs depending on the child’s age, to properly integrate the child to the experiences of loss and death.

The article, “Grief in Children: How to Help Kids Cope With Loss” by Michele Hirsch takes a closer look at the unique way children grieve.  In the article, she points out the various emotions that can sometimes emerge in children.  She explains the different ways grief manifests in children and how to pin point it.  She also elaborates on how to help children grieve and discuss death at certain ages.   Sometimes, children need to speak with someone who is specialized in adolescent and child grief.  Overall, she states, children at younger ages have different views on death.

“When it comes to grief in younger children in response to a death, Linda Goldman, a licensed clinical professional counselor with a private grief therapy practice who teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and has written many books about grief in children, explains: “It’s marked by causality, reversibility, and egocentricity.” Until about age 7, it is not uncommon for kids to think a death is their fault — and, that the person or pet might come back, she says.”

“Grief in Children: How to Help Kids Cope With Loss”.  Michele Hirsch. December 2nd, 2022. Every Day Health

To review the entire article, please click here


It is well established that the grieving process for children following a death is distinct from that of adults. This can be attributed to the many differences in cognitive and emotional development between the two age groups, which has an effect on how they respond to loss. Specifically, younger children may have difficulty understanding death as it is abstract, and thus may not feel a deep sense of sadness initially. Conversely, older children may resort to ways of coping such as denial or avoidance in their processing of the situation.

Younger children may have a problem understanding the permanent nature of death


The phenomenon of young children and the reversibility of death is a complex concept which speaks to the complexities of human mortality. The notion suggests that due to the developmental immaturity of young children, they are unable to comprehend the finality and irreversibility of death, instead perceiving it as a temporary absence. This perception can lead to an inability to effectively process and cope with the loss in a mature manner, leading to psychological distress and maladaptive behavior.

Children can learn that death is permanent later as they develop but also through parental guidance.  The first time a pet dies, or even a small fish, it is important to address it.  Instead of protecting the child from loss and replacing the fish while the child sleeps, it is better to use the death as a lesson for future greater losses.

As children become older, the idea of death as a permanent reality is more concrete and established.  It is even more so important to discuss death and loss during this period due to magical thinking.  Many children may hold more accountability to the loss to themselves although not their fault.  Words or thoughts of anger towards another before death can be held upon with great guilt and a false sense of causality.  It is hence important for parents to discuss death and loss at this age.

From children to teens, children can act out in grief.  Younger children can revert to bed wetting, teens can rebel, but it is important no matter the age, to stay in contact with one’s child during a loss or grieving period.  It is important to understand their different emotional out bursts and emotional behaviors.  The manner in which children respond to loss is a phenomenon that has garnered considerable attention from scholars in the field of psychology. Generally speaking, children tend to manifest varying degrees of distress when faced with the reality of loss, ranging from mild sadness to acute symptoms of depression. However, depending on the individual’s cognitive development and level of maturity, their reaction may also be characterized by more adaptive strategies such as seeking social support or distraction through play.

Pre adolescence may show numerous signs of regression or acting out.  It is important to reassure younger children that everything is going to be fine and try to keep as close to a schedule as possible. In regards to older children, the idea of death is more permanent and it is more about stabilizing routine but also consoling, talking and discussing the loss.  Adolescence is a period of heightened emotional development, which often involves an increased level of sensitivity to the concept of loss. This can be demonstrated through the emergence of various psychological and physical responses to the experience of grief, such as difficulty in concentration and sleep disruption. The adolescent may also experience feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, depression and guilt, all of which could have significant implications for their social functioning.  As the teenage years set in, new challenges can occur. Teenagers may act out, or engage in dangerous social activities. It is hence important for parents to be more active during these following months and not allow isolation to occur.


Due to past misconceptions about children and loss, there has been an attempt to protect children and shield them from death.  Not permitting a child to attend a funeral, or displaying poor grieving habits to them can prove to be detrimental to development.  Depending on their age and understanding of the concept of death, it is up to parents to help children know everything will be OK and that is not the child’s fault.  In addition, it is important to help children understand the nature of death and to let them partake in death rituals to also express themselves.   Parents should not be astonished to learn that children will also display grief differently, through play, or intermittent grieving, as well as older children displaying anger or outbursts.  Depending on the child’s age will point to understanding and reaction.  Parents can play a key role in helping their children learn better grieving habits and help them learn to experience the reality of death in the best healthy way possible.

Parents need to be there for their children during loss and create good grieving habits and take advantage of situations to teach them about loss


Please also review AIHCP’s  Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year additional certification in Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling.  The program, however, is only open to those who already have the basic Grief Counseling Certification.

Additional Resources

“How Children Process Grief and How to Help Them”. Nancy Lovering.  February 21st, 2022.  PsychCentral.  Access here

“When Children Grieve” Edy Nathan. March 20th, 2019.  Psychology Today.  Access here

“Helping Kids Cope With Grief: 6+ Tips to Support Children”. Gabriella Lancia.  May 17th, 2021. Positive Psychology.  Access here

“15 grief activities for kids from elementary to teens”. Better Place Forests. July 22nd, 2022.  Better Place Forests.  Access here


Grief Counseling Training Program Video on Therapies for Children and Grief

There are numerous therapies to help children better communicate their grief.  They can express through multiple outlets of creativity to help them express the grief and issues that haunt them.  Counselors can help children through a variety of methods.


Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a grief counselor.  Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Training


Please review the video below

AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Video

Children react to loss differently than adults and even more so within their particular ages of development.  It is important for Grief Counselors and other mental health professionals to have a thorough understanding of how children deal and cope with loss.

The American Academy of Grief’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program reviews the important elements of Child Grief Counseling.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Child Grief Counseling. Please review the program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals

Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program video below

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification Article on Teen Depression

Teens go through a variety of changes.  Physically, emotionally and socially, changes affect teens.  It is of no surprise then, that many teens suffer from depression or anxiety due to the many stresses that fall upon them.  Parents need to be alert and aware of their teen’s moods and problems.  Good parenting demands inspection of one’s teen and to ask them questions about their day.  When these things are neglected, issues such as anxiety or depression can emerge unchecked.

Is your teen depressed? Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification


The article, “Teens, anxiety, and depression: How worried should parents be?” from Boston’s Children Hospital takes a closer look at how parents can notice depression or anxiety in their teen.  The article states,

“Having a strong connection with an adult helps protect teens against anxiety and depression. This relationship could be with a parent, but it might not be. Depression and anxiety come with an enormous amount of shame and self-blame. Teens who feel this way may push their parents away. If so, parents can help their child cultivate a connection with a trusted adult, such as a coach, school counselor, or the parent of a friend.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Child Grief Counseling.

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification Article on Discussing Miscarriage

Miscarriages are sometimes a forgotten grief.  Parents suffer greatly who lose a child due to miscarriage.  It is unseen, and sometimes unknown, so the ability to find support can be difficult.  Both husband and wife share in the pain but many times the born children are left in the dark regarding the lost.  Children need to be explanations if a miscarriage occurs.

Discussions with a child about a miscarriage are important. Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification


These explanations need to be age appropriate.  They also need to ensure the child knows there is no blame for the loss but that sometimes these things can happen.

The article, “How To Talk To Kids About Miscarriage” by Jessica Zucker takes a closer look and on how to discuss the loss during miscarriage to children.  She states,

“Much like conversations centering around divorce or a parent separation, it’s common for children to immediately blame themselves for a pregnancy or infant loss. This is primarily due to their cognitive development, which leave them centering themselves and/or only seeing things through their perspectives. So it’s vital that throughout the conversation, and perhaps even at the start, you remind your child that they are in no way responsible for any pregnancy outcome, especially one that ends in a loss. And, that it’s not the fault of the mom either.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review The American Academy of Grief’s Grief Counseling Program as well as its Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification and see if they meet your professional and academic needs.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.


Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification Article on Parent and Child Grieving

When a family loss strikes, parents and children grieve together, however, both grieve differently.  Bad grieving habits can leave the children forgotten or left to wonder.  It is critical to share positive grieving habits and also understand the needs of the child during the period of loss.  Children grieve differently than adults so it is also critical to understand how children process loss.  Parenting and grieving at the same time is one of the most difficult situations because the parent is trying to recover while help one’s child.

It is hard to grieve and parent at the same time. Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Training Program


The article, “How to cope with grief when your kids are grieving, too” by Dr Ashwini Lal reviews how parents can grieve and help their children grieve.  She states,

“Children, as they are going through the developmental process, will naturally have a different grief experience than adults. Depending on their age, children will need guidance with respect to the grieving process.  Talking openly with them is a good way to model that it is okay to discuss grief and emotions. Their grief can be intermittent, meaning that you may notice they feel sad one moment and the next they are playing joyfully with their friends.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program and also for those already certified in Grief Counseling, AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification.  The program is designed for certified Grief Counselors and other qualified professionals.


Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program Article on Teens and Poor Body Image

Teenage years can be confusing.  Bodily changes, emotional swings, and mental challenges all come upon the teen at once.  With all of these changes, comes life changes and new adaptations to Highschool and early adulthood.  These things can lead teens to be very moldable and sensitive to others and peer pressure.  With these changes, teens can have low self esteem and poor body image if they are not encouraged and complimented.  These poor images can later in life also re-emerge in depression in adult life.

Teens can have poor body images which can lead to depression now and later in life. Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program


The article, “Teens with negative body image may experience depression as adults, study finds” by Kristen Rogers looks at this connection.  She states,

“Adolescence is fraught with stressful changes, and the developing body can be one of those challenges, especially if a teen’s body doesn’t meet society’s — or that teen’s — standards. Negative body image can threaten mental health, according to new research that found teenagers who were dissatisfied with their bodies tended to experience depression as adults.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified grief counselors who are seeking a sub specialty area in child grief.

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program on Children and Proper Grief Response

Children grieve and process loss differently than adults.  This a critically important concept for all grief counselors to grasp in their understanding of helping children deal with grief.  Children depending on their age as well as mental and emotional maturity all process grief differently.   Understanding this key concept can prevent numerous errors in child development when helping a child a through the process of grief.

It is important to teach children about the nature of loss. Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program


In the past, emotional and mental barriers to development of children were innocently but ignorantly created by concerned caregivers seeking to shield children from loss.  Children were denied final farewells at death scenes, or prevented from attending a funeral.   Hiding death, even that of a family pet as simple as a fish, were all considered important steps in protecting a child’s innocence from death.

In reality, sparing children the realities of death, or diminishing the event of death caused more damage to the mental and emotional development of children.  Children would then inherit improper coping mechanisms as adults when dealing with loss.  They would also have grief complications with past losses.  The inability to say good bye, find closure, or fully understand the nature of the loss crippled their abilities to deal with grief as adults.

In preventing these issues, adults, caregivers and grief counselors need to address loss to children. An explanation of the loss should correlate with the understanding and mental maturity of the child regarding the finality of death.  Death and loss should be seen as opportunities for the child to learn about death, especially in regards to smaller losses.

In dealing with these losses, caregivers should express death clearly without any figurative language and also encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts.  If a child wishes to express that is fine and if a child wishes to express less, that is fine.  The importance is that children are able to express their feelings and know that life will continue.

It is critical to allow children to express themselves as they fit not only for their own understanding but also to dismiss any ill thoughts regarding the loss that may fester within the child.  Children sometimes can blame themselves for the death of an individual or hold guilt that most adults would dismiss.  It is hence important to discuss the death clearly but also to have a full understanding of the child’s understanding of the loss in relationship to him or her.

By responding uniquely to each child’s need during a loss based on the child’s understanding, one can eliminate any possible grief complications and also allow the child to fully express him or herself.  This enables a better transition mentally, socially and emotionally.

To learn more how to speak to and understand grieving children, then please review AICHP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Program.  The program is open to currently certified Grief Counselors and is offered as an advanced specialty program.  Those who meet the qualifications can become certified in this advanced specialty field and learn to better help children cope with loss and grief.

Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification Article on Children and Grief

Children grieve differently.  Depending on their age, children have different mental ideals on death.  As they grow certain ideas change due to experiencing others die, from a simple goldfish or rabbit to a grandparent.  Children struggle with ideas such as universality, irreversibility, non functionality, and causality.   Eventually, some understand everything dies, that once someone or something has died it does not return, that bodily functions such as breathing end at death, and that only certain things cause death, not unrelated issues.

Children grieve differently than adults. Many children depending on maturity react to death differently. Please review our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals


Children hence need to be guided through a death event differently pending on their age and maturity in regards to their understanding of basic death concepts.

The article, “Helping children with grief” from WGU Ohio, presents an indepth look at death and how to present death to a children.  The article states,

“Particularly when it comes to coping with death, children have a unique way of processing and dealing with their grief. Oftentimes the first step to helping children grieve is ensuring that they understand the concept of death, and that there aren’t lingering misconceptions”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Certification.  The program is open qualified professionals who have already become certified in Grief Counseling and are looking for an additional specialty certification.