Chapter 2: Children’s grief

The importance of honesty

The palliative care physician says
Megan discusses counselling and providing support to the other children in the family. (3:22)Video transcript

At first, my husband and I were so sad. We cried every day, and so our daughter never talked about our son. I feel bad about that. Then she seemed almost embarrassed, as if she didn’t want anyone to know that she had lost her brother.

It’s natural to want to protect children, and this can make it difficult for you to talk to them about your loss. When speaking with your own children, you may worry that the death of your baby may cause significant distress in them.

Children are both curious and intuitive. They can sense when something significant is happening in their environment, especially when it involves you. Below are three reasons it is important to include children by giving them age-appropriate information. Roll your mouse over each box to see more.

They may think that they are responsible for your sadness.



If they sense that you are sad or acting differently, they may try to be especially well behaved and helpful, or act happy, thinking that this will make you “all better.”


They may internalize their grief so you are unaware.



It is likely that they will worry, perhaps in silence, about what has happened.


They may become fearful.



They may imagine something worse than the reality. They may also fear that you will die.



Although you are grieving, you will need to find the time and space to support your children. This can be challenging, but also rewarding.



It’s important that children understand and believe that you are there for them. They will also learn that even when things are difficult, there is value in sharing emotions and learning how to support others. This can help them to develop the resilience that they will need throughout their lives.

Helpful resources - Canadian Virtual Hospice, talking with kids and teens about  serious illness, dying and death. -  At the Dougy Center, you will find support, resources, and connection before and after a death