Tell the child about the death as soon as possible using clear, age-appropriate language. Invite and encourage children to ask questions. Be prepared to repeat information as the reality of death can be difficult to absorb. Tell the child’s teacher and/or daycare provider of the death and its impact on your child.

Grieving children are likely to act out their angry feelings in negative ways, as they often do not have a well-developed emotional vocabulary. Allow your child/teen to express his or her feelings through play, art, writing or other expressive means. Such activities can help him or her manage overwhelming feelings.


Relay that death means the body no longer works, and the person who died cannot come back. Discuss the plans for the visitation and/or funeral and encourage, but never force the child or teen to participate in some way.


Keep in mind that young people may need extra attention and reassurance. Nighttime fears, separation anxiety, emotional outbursts, and regression in behavior are all common reactions. Reassure your child or teen that you are still a family, you will get through this together and there will always be someone to love and care for him/her.


Adhere to routines as much as possible. Children and teens are reassured by predictable and familiar routines such as bedtime, chores, homework, etc.


Find ways to remember or honor the deceased person’s life with your child. It can be planting a garden, cooking a special meal or donating to a charity. Teach the young person that life has meaning and is not forgotten.



There is no time limit on grief.

There are times when children will re-grieve the death, especially around certain occasions such as holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

Be aware of grief triggers. Grief triggers are those everyday occurrences that can remind us of our loved one who died. Anything can be a grief trigger; a song on the radio, a certain scent or an upcoming birthday. It’s important, especially for children and teens, to have an outlet to release those emotions they may be feeling.

There is no way to “fix” grief.

Grief is the natural reaction to death. Grieving is normal; it is healthy. It is our body and mind’s way of handling the death of someone we love.

My child has not cried/ cries all the time over the death.
Is this normal?

My best friend’s dad died recently. I want to help, but I don’t know how. What can I do?



Sit back and allow the

child to take the lead


All of our programs and services are offered at no cost to grieving children, teens, and their families. In-kind and monetary donations are always welcomed.


It takes a lot of
 volunteers to help us heal so many hearts each year.

Along with programs, Erin’s House has a wealth of educational materials and resources available to help families who have experienced the death of a loved one. Check out the materials for further review at:

5670 YMCA Park Drive West

Fort Wayne, IN  46835

The mission of
Erin's House is to provide support for children, teens, and their families who have experienced a death.



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5670 YMCA Park Dr. West
Fort Wayne, IN  46835


Monday - Friday
9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.

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