Stories help children better understand death and cope with their feelings. Age-appropriate books allow children to identify with characters in similar situations and to learn ways of thinking and talking about death. Reading also provides an opportunity for parent and child to share feelings of loss.

For Your Child

What Are Some Signs of Mourning in Children?

Every child is unique and reacts to loss differently. They do not grieve in the same way or even in the same time frame, but children may exhibit one or more of these signs following a loss:

  • Sadness;
  • Reminiscing about the person who died;
  • Difficulty concentrating in school;
  • Sleep and eating problems;
  • Aggressive behavior;
  • Lack of emotional response to the loss;
  • Guilt and anger;
  • Unwilling to talk about the loss;
  • Feelings of isolation;
  • Inconsistent reactions; for example, showing no outward signs of grief and then becoming emotional;
  • Identifying with the person who died.

These are normal expected behaviors in children who have suffered the loss of a parent or loved one and does not mean a child needs therapy. These behaviors may not show up right away, but be delayed as long as a year. In thinking about whether your child needs professional help, consider how long these symptoms have been present and how much they interfere with the child’s activities.

What Are Some Signs that My Child Needs Grief Counseling?

  • Chronic health problems related to stress;
  • Behavior problems at home or school that do not gradually improve;
  • Suicidal intention or fantasies, other than fleeting thoughts;
  • Lack of interest in formerly enjoyed activities that doesn’t improve;
  • Bad dreams that do not gradually decrease in frequency or intensity;
  • Denial of the event or loss.

What Are Signs Indicating a Child of Divorce May Need Treatment?

Each child and family situation is unique. It is important to consider whether the child can cope with what is happening when there are the following problems:

  • Stress-related health problems or behavior issues don’t improve over time.
  • The child’s parents are so involved with their differences and issues they can’t give adequate support to their child.
  • When no other caring adults–for example, family members, teachers, and coaches–are available to provide a support system for the child.

What Is Grief Counseling?

  • Provides support for a child who is having difficulty in adapting to the loss of a loved one.
  • Helps child process complex feelings.
  • Validates child’s feelings.
  • Allows child to talk about their feelings in a safe environment.
  • Helps child move from grieving to cherishing memories of the loved one.
  • Provides support and guidance for the caretaker or family.

What Happens in Grief Counseling?

At Barr-Harris, the process of grief counseling begins with a parent or caregiver interview to gather information about the loss. The therapist then meets with the child to determine the child’s needs.

In therapy sessions the child meets one-on-one with the therapist and receives consistent support, reassurance, and information. The therapist also offers support and guidance to the child’s caregiver.

Therapy sessions are a safe place for the child to talk about his or her thoughts and feelings and to ask questions about death and mourning. Some children, however, are not ready or are having difficulty expressing themselves verbally. In these situations, the therapist and child will engage in play activities with toys, games, and arts and crafts while exploring the child’s sense of loss and grief. By providing a relaxing distraction, these activities help reduce the child’s anxiety about expressing painful and complicated inner feelings.

How Long Does Grief Counseling Take?

Each child and situation is different. The number of sessions is determined by the child’s needs and in consultation between the therapist and the child’s surviving parent or caregiver.

How Much Does Grief Counseling Cost?

Our services are affordable and accessible to any family that needs them. While we have set fees for services, we offer a sliding payment scale for families in need and we accept insurance. No family is turned away for financial reasons.

Why Choose Barr-Harris?

  • For more than 30 years we have been providing compassionate help for grieving children.
  • Professional, experienced clinicians.
  • Individual treatment.
  • We are committed to providing immediate consultation to families in crisis.
  • No family is ever turned away for financial reasons.
  • Five locations in the greater Chicago area.