Chapter 2: Modelling grief

Learning by watching

I've been there
Omo discusses telling their son's experiences of watching adults grieve. (3:22)Video transcript

I didn't want my kids to see me cry. But then I realized we needed to be sad and mad together, and it was okay for them to see me hurting too. 

Healthy grieving is like any other life skill – it needs to be taught and learned. Children learn how to grieve and care for their feelings by watching the adults in their lives. This is what we mean by modelling grief. Children benefit when you teach them through words and actions that:

  • Grief is a healthy and natural response to the illness, dying or death of someone close to them.
  • Grief, like many of life’s difficult experiences, isn’t something to be fixed or avoided, but something to learn to live with.
  • Being “strong” includes experiencing our feelings and asking for support when we need it. 
  •  Even when we are grieving we can still find things that make us laugh, bring us joy and to be grateful for. 

When children are allowed to witness adults cry, share thoughts and express feelings, this gives them permission to cry, feel and share. It’s perfectly healthy for you to cry with your children of any age.