Children Often Grieve Following A Divorce or Death


Adults are not the only ones adversely affected by loss. Children and teens experience grief, especially after a divorce, the death of a family member or in the wake of an absent parent. If you notice sudden, unsettling behavioral changes in your children, they may be experiencing feelings of grief due to a significant change. Your child might become withdrawn, perhaps spending hours alone in his or her room. Perhaps you’ve tried repeatedly to reach out, but your child refuses to talk and only answers you with quick, one-word responses. In addition, teachers may be calling about plummeting grades or disruptive behavior. Your child might also appear to be angry with you, perhaps constantly asking about an absent parent or telling you he or she doesn’t want you anymore. Unfortunately, some children are capable of burying their feelings so deeply that we have no sense of their struggle. If your child asks for counseling, she or he is trying to tell you they are suffering and need help getting to the feelings they are having.

As parents it is inevitable that we feel sadness and responsibility when our children are hurting-even when their hurt wasn’t caused by us. In your heart you likely know your child’s grief isn’t your fault, but you still may be unable to cast away the guilt. Right now you’re probably desperate to reach out to your child and take away his or her pain, but may feel he or she is just too far away.

Your Child Can Learn to Cope with and Work Through His or Her Grief

If your child is struggling to cope with a divorce, death or absent parent, we provide teen and child counseling services, including specialties for children and grief. Many of the therapists at Alkira are parents, and we have personally and professionally experienced and worked with issues involving children and grief. Often children don’t want to share their grief with their parents because they’re afraid of triggering their parents’ feelings or fear mom and dad simply won’t understand their emotions. In one-on-one talk therapy sessions, teens and children can express their feelings through outlets that make them feel safe, including music, art, play and other modes of expression.

Play therapy is the language of children. Because of their cognitive development, it can be impossible for children to verbally express their feelings when it comes to major changes that trigger loss. We use non-directive and directive play therapy to provide a venue for kids to express their feelings and work through situations.

With the help and support of an experienced, patient and professional children and grief counselor from Alkira, your child can learn to cope with his or her grief, going on to live a healthy, happy life.

But you may still have questions about how counseling can help children and grief…

What if counseling makes my child feel worse?

While it is true that painful issues can arise during our sessions, it is important that your child work through these challenges in a healthy manner. Deciding not to get help now can lead to your child’s struggles getting worse, leading to problems they will have to deal with later in life. We use a strength-based approach to work with your child, building on his or her interests and promoting the natural resiliency all children have.

Is ‘play therapy’ really the best option for my child?

In many cases the non-directive relationship we build with your child will be the first he or she has experienced with an adult. We give your child control of the room so he or she can see it is ok to reach out to someone, and that he or she does not need to fear being judged or disciplined. We are happy to take some time in our first session to explain what we accomplish through directive and non-directive play therapy, and how the process works.

My child and I aren’t usually available at the same time. Do you offer flexible scheduling?

We understand how difficult it can be to find time when both you and your child are available to come to counseling. We offer flexible scheduling, including sessions after school and on some Saturdays.

Your Child Can Feel Better

Contact us at Alkira to help your child cope with and move past his or her grief. We are available after school and on some Saturdays. We specialize with children’s issues, including children and grief, and are ready to help your child feel better, and help he or she communicate more effectively with you. Just call 315-492-1390 or email