A Child's View: Coping

BY: Mary Murphy, M.Ed., LPC


​When someone we love dies, sometimes we can feel almost nothing.  We are in shock and try to act as if everything is normal with our friends and families. Then, little by little, feelings start to make their way in. Sadness, anger, fear, confusion, loneliness and guilt can spin around in our minds and bodies. 

We try to concentrate at school or have fun with friends. But life has changed in a big way and adjusting to our new life without our loved one is hard.
When I was just 9 years old, a neighborhood friend died. Then, my father died when I was 17. Back then, some adults thought kids didn’t have feelings and didn’t grieve. Now, we know differently.

We know that it is extremely important for kids to share their grief. We know that there are many ways to express feelings—talking, drawing, dancing, exercising, singing, reading and writing. Learning how to handle our feelings is called coping.

Here’s an activity that you can do alone or do as a family to have some coping skills on hand: 
You’ll need six jars, boxes, or other small containers; paper or index cards cut into strips; and crayons or pencils. Using your paper or index cards, label each container with an emotion—sad, lonely, mad, confused, happy, anxious, or others—you are feeling since the death of your special person. 

With your friends and family or on your own, write or draw on a slip of paper something you can do when you experience one of the emotions. For example, if you are lonely you can call or text a friend or ask a family member to go for a walk with you. Put these ideas into the “lonely” jar. If you are sad, you can volunteer to help someone, or hold tight to a reminder of your loved one and have a good cry. Put these ideas in the “sad” jar. Do this for the other emotion jars.  You can add coping ideas to each jar at any time. When you have a feeling you’re struggling to manage, go to the jar.  See if one of those coping supports might be useful. You can also go to this website https://copingskillsforkids.com/ for more ideas.  

I am so, so sorry you have lost someone so special. Carry them in your heart and always and remember them with love.

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