Helping 10 & 8 Year Olds Grieve

Updated on February 22, 2010
L.H. asks from Dayton, OH
11 answers

I have 4 boys. 2 by my first marriage and 2 by my second. My ex-husband passed away very suddenly less than 2 weeks ago. My oldest son (10) has become very clingy and gets extremely worried if we are not where we should be - not home at the exact time or at my desk when he calls. My 8 year old has been in need of more hugs and kisses than normal. I have all their teachers and their school phychologist up to date on how they are at home, and of course that isn't the way they are at school.

Any ideas on how I can help them grieve? I am working with a grief counslor for children at the Pathways of Hope and will be getting them in for counseling soon. I am also going to send them to a Grief Weekend in June with Pathways.

Any advise or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I have kept an open line of communication with them for the last few weeks. They have journals now so they can write when they are having a "sad" moment. We are keeping in close contact with their Grandmother. I have a counseling appointment for them so they can talk to someone besides me and my husband. They have both said that the summer camp sounds like fun and they want to go. We are also trying to be consistent so that they keep on a routine and that I have been told will help. I spent the day with them today spending all the gift cards they have accumulated over the last couple of months so that was fun, plus I added in lunch. I was told this was the best day they have had in a while.

Thank you for all the suggestions and advice. It really helped!

More Answers



answers from Wausau on

Could you get anything of his, like a piece of clothing. I've heard of people making teddy bears for kids from Grandpa's shirts, etc. Since their boys & a little older, maybe just a small pillow-something they can hold when their sad & punch or throw when their mad that he's gone. I wish we had done something like this when my Gma passed away. Good Luck & keep up the good work. God Bless you all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Your boys might be a little old for this, but this is what a friend of a friend does for her daughter.

Her daughter is 5 and her ex-husband (daughter's father) passed away at the end of last year. This year on Valentine's Day which was his birthday, she bought some helium balloons and wrote messages to Daddy. They then went outside and sent them up to daddy. I thought it was a cute idea. It really meant a lot of her little girl.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Hi LuAnnn,
My Dad passed away when I was 7 and I have 4 brothers (older and younger) that went through this loss at a young age and all turned out great. You seem to be doing all of the right things and they are so lucky to have you. One thing I did not see anyone else mention is the importance (now and in the years to come) of a positive male role model. You mention you have had 2 marriages but wasn't clear if your second husband is still in the picture or not. Please go out of your way to find positive role models for them especially as they get close to puberty, shaving, physical changes as they get close to manhood, tying a tie, all the things that Mommy's aren't the best source of info on... they will cherish it.

Also, if you can, point out other men that they respect that may have had Dad's who have died. It may be a huge relief to them that this has happened to many young boys, who were sad and missed their Dads but ultimately became strong successful happy men. (which of course is exactly what their Dad would wish for their lives).

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Dear L.,
I am sorry to hear about your older son's loss of their father. I wanted to write and tell you about a wonderful program that I work with as a grief counselor volunteer. It is also called Pathways in Long Beach California. I don't know if they are the same organization or not, but I commend you on reaching out for your children as soon as possible. Our family program is called the Changes program and each week we cover a different topic for the chilldren, the program covers 7 weeks and at the end of the program we have a balloon lauch where we send off notes to our loved one on the balloon. You had mentioned journals, we also do memory boxes. They bring in a box for decorating and bring pictures or any items that remind them of their loved one. The Grief Weekend sounds great for your sons. Surround them with love and patience and be a good listener when they need to talk about their father. Keep up the good work.
Cindy F.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi L.,

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. It sounds to me like you're doing all the right things. I am glad you recognize that children do not grieve in the same way as adults. Often, we think they are "fine" and it's only because they are stuffing their feelings, which have to come out at some time in some way. If it happens years later, it could be in a very self-destructive way.

My 9 year old son is grieving the loss of his older brother, who died 4 years ago at the age of 8, so we unfortunately know a thing or two about grief. I'm here for you anytime you need to talk.

God bless you,



1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My son was a lot younger when he first lost a loved O.. I think it helped him to understand that as long as you remember the person, they live in your heart forever. I also discussed with him how the life of every living thing has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Also my hubby (brilliant!), took him to the store and let him pick a balloon, let my son dictate a note to his Pap, my hubby tied the note to the balloon ribbon and let my son release it to heaven for Pap. I'm thinking that since their dad's death was sudden and unexpected, maybe there are some things they didn't get to say and that might be a good way to do it.
I think the counseling will be excellent.
While the man you describe was less than perfect, he was (is) and always will be their dad and there are a LOT of dads out there that NEVER see their kids or EVER buy a gift for them. Be gentle with these boys. Their world is rocked right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

I'm sorry that your boys are going through something as difficult as loosing a parent.
Make a scrap book with each of them. Photos of them & thier dad. Add info that they may not know about him (like one person said- his favoried color, food, hobbies, ect.). This will help them remember their dad & may be comforting to them. Allow them to visit his grave if they want. Maybe even make drawings for him, (my son did this after his sister died).
My oldest son helped me when his sister was born & died. He was only 2 1/2 so he didn't understand what was going on.
I would be careful about the Grief Weekend if you are not able/allowed to go with them. I think it would be great for them, I just worry that they will get hysterical if their only parent isn't nearby.
It is awesome that you are on top of this with their school & a grief counsler. Just continue to snuggle them as much as they need to be reassured that you are there for them.

God bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Ele's place in Washtenaw county is an OUTSTANDING resource for kids who are grieving. They have group session they go to with other kids and relating to your peers and not just adults make a big difference.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I feel so sorry for your boys. How painful for them. It sounds like you are doing the right things. How do they feel about going away for a Grief Weekend? They may not want to be away from you. I think extra love, hugs and lots of family time is what they need the most. Would they be interested in spending time his family? Maybe they could write letters to their dad or start journals. I think Maria Shriver wrote a children's book about grieving not too long about.

I do think, however, that the lack of attention their father gave them is irrelevant to their love for him and to their grieving. There's a good chance that as kids they may not even realize these things that are very obvious to you as an adult. I'm sure you wouldn't want to tell them these things or bring attention to them. Their memories are theirs to keep whether they're accurate or not. Does no good to make sure the kids understand the way their father really was. That would only cause them to resent you.

Best wishes trying to help your sons through this. How sad.


answers from Spokane on

Keep doing what you are doing and allow/help them to remember their father in lots of ways...maybe point out his favorite foods or colors or whatever...on occasion. Make sure they each have something of his...that is especially for them and them alone. Do something small together on his bday...

Until things get a lil' better make sure you are where you say you are and come home when you say you will...dont make them worry unnecessarily.



answers from Chicago on

Just show them that you are there for them. Continue with the affection. Maybe take a small vacation to help them take their minds off him? Im very sorry for your loss, it'll take a while, but just show them that you are there and be strong for them. Mantain a schedule, children need structure. Have them start a new hobby or let them draw. Drawing is good for children, helps them express themselves.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions