**CAREGIVERS: FEEL FREE TO COPY THE TEXT INTO A WORD DOCUMENT, ADD YOUR OWN TEXT, AND THEN PRINT.**
Dear Teacher & Caring Adult,
This year, you will be working with and/or caring for at least one grieving child. My child’s name is [fill in the blank], and he/she/they experienced the death of his/her/their [fill in person here and the date of the death].
I know how busy and overworked teachers are, and I thought it might be helpful to share these tips below created by Experience Camps, a nonprofit that transforms the lives of grieving children through summer camp programs and innovative, year-round initiatives.
Please know this letter is intended to help and support you by giving a small window into what grieving young people, like my child, experience and how to support them. I am happy to answer any questions and so appreciate you taking the time to read this.
- Most kids just want to feel normal. Children who have had a parent, sibling or primary caregiver die can feel very different from their peers, and that can be isolating.
- School or community events that require parent involvement can be hard when a parent has died.
- Even if a death happened a long time ago, the child is still grieving. Grief does not follow a straight path and there is no end. It can flare up at different times of year or may be triggered by a memory. School assignments related to family or a child’s past can become triggers.
- Grief can make it hard to concentrate. Allowing the child to take breaks, listen to music, or write in a journal may help. You can even ask the child, “what helps when you’re feeling sad or thinking about your mom/dad/sibling/etc?”.
- Transitional periods and stress can also trigger grief. A child who is making a big decision may long for the parent who is not there to advise them. A difficult social situation might make them miss a parent or sibling who could comfort them or help them solve problems.
What can you do to support a grieving child?
- Listen without judgment. Grieving children need a trusted adult to talk to and confide in.
- Set clear limits. Grieving children are still children. They find safety in structure and clearly defined expectations.
- Find out what helps. All children grieve differently. Speak with the parent or caregiver (like me!) or ask the child to find out what they want you to know and what helps them get through difficult times.
- Facilitate connections. Grief can make children feel alone, so try to find ways to highlight shared experiences and similarities with other kids to help them feel connected to their peers.
To learn more about supporting grieving children, there are excellent resources at experiencecamps.org. Thank you for your care and support of all children, and for recognizing the individual needs of grieving children.
parent/caregiver of __________________________________(child’s name)
**This letter was written with the input and advice of campers, caregivers and grief experts at Experience Camps, a network of free grief camps for youth. Experience Camps is an award-winning national nonprofit that transforms the lives of grieving children through summer camp programs and innovative, year-round initiatives. Through compassion, connection, and play, we allow grieving children to embody a life full of hope and possibility. By amplifying their voices, we are creating a more grief-sensitive culture.