Bill of Rights for Grieving Children
Modified from Dr. Alan Wolfelt
- The child has the right to have his/her own feelings. The child may feel mad, sad or lonely. He/she may feel scared or relieved. The child may feel numb or perhaps nothing at all.
- The child has the right to talk about his/her grief whenever he wants to. The child will find someone who will listen and allow him not to talk if he doesn’t want to.
- The child has the right to show her feelings of grief in her own way. When children hurt, sometimes they want to play so they’ll feel better. Some like to laugh, others may get mad or even scream.
- Children have the right to expect help from adults at home, school and church. They really need someone to pay attention to what they are feeling and saying, and they need to know they will be loved no matter how they behave.
- The child has the right to get upset about normal everyday problems. They will have their grumpy days and have difficulty getting along.
- The child has the right to have “griefbursts.” The child may exhibit sudden, unexpected feeling of sadness at anytime, even late in the grief process. These can be strong, scary feelings and the child may be more clingy than usual.
- The child has the right to use his/her own belief system to deal with grief. Praying may make the child feel closer to the person who died; however the child should never be forced to pray.
- The child has the right to question the cause of death. “Why” questions regarding death are the hardest of all questions. It’s okay to ask.
- The child has the right to talk about his memories of the person that died. Memories help the child to keep alive the love he had for the person.
- The child has the right to experience their grief even when others think they should “be over it.” At every developmental phase children typically re-grieve the death of a loved one. They may not grieve as acutely as when the death occurred, but they will always miss that special person.