Grief & Loss

Positive Parenting Strategy #1 re: Infants/Toddlers and Grief and Loss (separation)


Although babies and toddlers do not have the capacity to understand grief and loss, nor the language to express their feelings, they do experience the emotions associated with loss and separation. They are also likely to pick up on the anxiety and distress of those around them. Here are some strategies to help:

· Keep routines and normal activities as consistent as possible

· Hold and cuddle them more

· Be calm and loving

· Use a soft, reassuring voice, and avoid loud environments

· Provide familiar comfort items like a favourite blanket, teddy bear etc…


Positive Parenting Strategy #2 re: Preschooler/Adolescent and Grief and Loss(es)


-Keep routines and normal activities as consistent as possible.

-Acknowledge their sad feelings, and if they do not have the language, teach them the words to express their emotions

-Reaffirm that they are safe and who is there for them. Be honest about the situation using age-appropriate language.

-Be physically there for them as much as possible

-Comfort them when they need it, give them space when they need it, speak and behave calmly around the

-Give them time to process. This can take months, years, and sometimes a lifetime to learn to cope and understand loss

-Let them know this is not their fault

-Remind them that their parents love them

-Use distraction: play, get outside, bake etc…

-Provide art materials for them to express their feelings

-Counselling if necessary

-Create a Life Book of their loved ones https://okfosterparents.ca/index.php/life-books

-Be sure they are eating and sleeping well

-Allow them to grieve at their own age/ability

-Begin a “good-bye” routine to soften the impact of separating from parent visitations


Positive Parenting Strategy #3 re: Youth and Grief and Loss(es)


-Allow them to spend more time with their friends if that is where they find more support – try not to take it personally

-Be honest and let them know what is happening

-Listen and be available to talk if they want to

-Acknowledge their changing feelings without trying to change them, feelings don’t need to be “fixed”

-Share your own story of loss; you will be the example of how to talk about grief/loss

-Reassure them that the loss is not their fault

-Reassure them that they are safe and who is there for them

-Allow them to be vulnerable, they do not need to be “strong” nor forget the past; they will move through the loss on their own time

-Keep routines as normal as possible

-Offer them support information e.g.: websites, apps, videos, phone numbers

-Talk to them about grief and that their feelings are normal

-Comfort, be calm

-Ask them what they need from you

-It is normal for grief/feelings of loss to re-surface later as Youth change and develop, try to be patient, challenging behaviour may be linked to the loss.

-After visitations, don’t push them to talk, but let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk about how they are feeling

-Attend counselling/therapy if needed

-If you notice extreme reactions or depression contact a physician


Other notes: If a child/youth brings up the same issue over and over, it is almost always because their feelings have not been heard. Grief is the loss of unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations of a relationship, it feels unfinished and incomplete. Loss is wishing the situation was different, better, or more. Learning the process of forgiveness can help us all with grieving. Forgiveness is important to relieve some of the anxiety and general negative feelings that are related to loss; find some preliminary information about the process of forgiveness here https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201301/9-steps-forgiveness. Here is a link to a widely respected book about grief/loss https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/books/grief-recovery-handbook.

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