Supporting Children in Grief: Middles and Tweens

How to support children 9 to 12 years of age who are grieving.

We hear a lot from folks about how they don’t know what to say or do for kids and teens when someone has died. Many folks are also unsure if a child is grieving “right.” Check out the tips below that can help you gain a better understanding of what grief looks like for children 9 to 12 years of age, what you can say to them to help, and how their grief looks different than an adult’s.

Common Grief Reactions

  • This may be a more socially sensitive time
  • The youth may need to understand their new identity without the person who died
  • Their desire for more independence and control will be reflected in their grief
  • Isolation may be a grief reaction at this age
  • A fantasy that one could be with the person who died again is a common and normal grief reaction that does not necessarily mean your child wishes to die
  • This age group will be impacted by their grieving caregivers; this is ok

Appropriate ways to speak with your child

  • Name whatever emotions they’re having without judgment
  • Behavior IS communication for you and your child
  • Use clear and simple language
  • It’s okay if you don’t always have the answer


  • Honest discussion of feelings/journaling feelings
  • Plan together ways to honor the memory of their loved one
  • Create a memory box/book/poster
  • Write a letter to the person who died
  • Celebrate their loved one by eating a food that they liked, listening to music that they enjoyed, or doing an activity they liked, together

Things to Remember

  • Children’s grief is based on one’s culture, religion, and race
  • Maintain a level of curiosity with your child’s experience in grief
  • There are no set stages; grief doesn’t happen in any special order
  • Grief and grieving changes over time
  • Reach out to a professional if you or your child needs support
Share Our Guide

Get the guide on understanding of what grief looks like, what you can say to a child to help, and how a child’s grief looks different than an adult’s.

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