Talking to kids about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss: Resources and Books
Talking about loss is not easy. If talking about pregnancy and infant loss is too difficult or triggering for you and is keeping you from talking to your child or children about the loss, enlist the help of another trusted adult like a grandparent or other family member, a friend or a mental health professional.
It’s hard, but it is incredibly important to talk to children about loss. Children are very sensitive to their surroundings and usually already know that something is wrong. When children don't know the reason for the shift in energy and emotions, they will often assume that they are somehow at fault. Telling the truth to kids of any age builds trust, safety and security. The truth is actually much less scary to kids than their imaginations.
Starting the conversation with a book is a gentle and developmentally appropriate way to acknowledge loss with kids. Pictures and text help them to see other kids experiencing the same things as them, and normalizes difficult emotions like grief.
Hands-on and sensory activities can help them to sit with and process hard things. Talking to children while they play with play dough or colour, often has the effect of a longer attention span, contemplation, and space to ask questions and process answers. Legacy building activities such as making a memory box, making handprints, or making a memorial candle create connection, time for processing and sitting with grief and loss, and a ritual or keepsake that continue to be a connection to a loved one.
Older kids may benefit from their own therapy or group support experience where they can meet peers that have experienced the same things as them. Kids and teens tend to be really attuned to their parents emotions, and maybe not share their feelings if they’re worried that they will “upset” them or add to their grief. Having other ways to express feelings, like journaling, art, or talking to a school counsellor are accessible ways for kids to express their feelings and get support.
For more information, here are some recommended resources, both local and online, as well as books to support you with conversations about loss:
Sesame Street’s Grief Series
Videos and information about how to talk to children about loss, how to handle big feelings, and other supports for caregivers.
Canadian Alliance for Grieving Children and Youth
A national directory of children’s grief and bereavement support services.
The Dougy Center
Comprehensive resources for parents, teens, young adults, and children impacted by grief.
What's Your Grief
Grief support and tools to express grief for all ages (adults included).
Baby’s Breath Canada
A website providing information, resources and bereavement support for families who have experienced infant loss.
Upopolis Grief Island and Sibling Island
Online peer support for youth 10 to 19 years who are grieving or have a sibling with a chronic or life-threatening illness, moderated by Child Life Specialists.
Bereavement support groups, camps, counselling, and education
Teenage Grief Sucks
Supportive community to share your experience and learn about grief. Articles written by peers and professionals who understand loss from a teenagers perspective.
Something Very Sad Happened by Bonnie Zucker
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen
What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death by Dr. Jillian Roberts
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Forever Connected by Jessica Correnti, CCLS
Remembering Our Baby: A Book for Siblings after SIDS by Laura Camerona, CCLS
There Was A Baby... by Laura Camerona, CCLS
I’m Still a Big Sister by Brittany Day
Happy Tears and Rainbow Babies by Natasha Carlow
The Memory Box by Joanna Rowland
I Have a Question about Death: Clear Answers for All Kids, including Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Special Needs by Arlen Grad Gaines and Meredith Englander Polsky
Deconstruction/Reconstruction: A grief journal for teens by The Dougy Center
Weird is Normal: When Teenagers Grieve by Jenny Wheeler