Kids grieve differently. I first began to understand this as I drove between my home hospice families in rural Georgia. I delivered end of life care, symptom management, and, especially, I "pronounced" the hospice patients who died on my watch. Adults often cry, become angry, or find solace in faith. But the children behaved differently. As I sat with one little girl, waiting for the funeral home transortation, she lamented, "Look at those kids! They are playing ball, eating sandwiches, like nothing has happened! They don't even miss Gran."

My little friend was the exception. Her siblings were exhibiting normal childhood behavior. Kids have diffficulty processing the unfamiliar feelings of grief. And the unfathomable idea that, one day, they too, will cease existence as we know it. So,they resort to another more comforting activity, to avoid the unbearable reality of their mortality.
Kids feel intensley, but these emotions are so unfamiliar, they have difficulty processing them. I have learned a great deal by asking my adult friends about their childhood grief memories.

"I loved Gramp," said one friend. "But I couldn't stand thinking about him being gone. I grabbed a ball, went outside & tossed it around. Folks thought I was unfeeling, or that I didn't care. But, I did. I just couldn't stand the pain."

Children understand at about age six, that death is permanent. This is an upsetting concept. They worry "Who is next? Will it be Mama, Daddy, or me?" I watched my grandson, Noah, at a recent funeral, for signs of distress. He appeared unfazed by the loss of his maternal grandmother, who he saw frequently. Barely able to read, he began starting his morning with a bowl of cereal, and a quick glance at the Obituary column. "Look who died" he would say, holding up the paper. How could I have missed this? Adults in the household may be coping with their own mourning process, and not be helping the child with truthful information, comfort, and opportunities to ask questions. Kids may "shove" their emotions, withdraw, act out, or feel responsible, guilty, about a death. Studies show that adults who were unable to grieve as children are at risk for developing depression later in life.

GRIEF CAMPS, with trained counselors, listen, give the child opportunities to express their feelings, in a peer friendly safe environment. The US Census Bureau states tha 1.5 million children are living in single parent households because of the death of a parent. One in twenty American kids under fifteen will suffer the loss of one or both parents due to death. YOGA is a pivotal activity for this healing GRIEF CAMP environment.


1. KIDS RELATE TO ANIMALS. Even the youngest campers can visualize a dog stretching after a nap, performiong DOWN DOG to maintain a healthy spine. It becomes a playful game. Doing a Stork pose, they instantly appreciate the patience and concentration it requires to stand on one leg. This translates to focusing at school. It become a playful game, a coping tool.

2. THE BODY IS AN OUTER MANIFESTATION OF THE MIND. As emotions are felt, the body reflects them in mood and behavior. Our voices quiver, we feel a lump in the throat, or become breathless. Sadness is a "tissue issue". The body and mind are inseparable. We shuffle, bend forward to protect our hearts from further assault. Yoga acts directly on these postural habits of sadness. Poses that open the chest and throat are paramount in "unsticking" these universal symptoms of bereavement. These poses flood the brain with serotonin and the "feel good" hormones of the pituitary. Yoga breathing quiets the busy fronal cortex of the child's brain, slows the breath rate,and infuses the student with a sense of peace and calm. We call this "Time in," a place of tranquil respite.

3. MEDITATIVE HEALING. Yoga is based on a philosophy of balance or harmony of body, mind and spirit. Yoga teaches kids that they can choose a thought that will effect behavior, such entertaining a grateful, happy or funny memory that will lead them to a positive mindset.

Affirmations of acceptance, forgiveness, loving self care and kindness give the child here and now tools to manage this very human condition of suffering his inevidible losses in life.

Author's Bio: 

Lorna is a hospice nurse, writer, and a long time yoga student. As a Minister of Consolation for her church, she facilitates a Grief Support group. She also teaches Yoga to students with neurological impairments at a non profit facility, NEURO FITNESS. For more information visit