It’s Okay to Cry

“Give sorrow words, the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er wrought heart and bids it break.” Shakespeare

A grieving infant, child or adolescent needs help establishing appropriate expressions and outlets for grief. What is grief to one child or adolescent may not be grief to someone else. This is all right because everyone grieves differently. Allow an infant, child, or adolescent to grieve in his or her own way.
When a loved one dies, children grieve. All children grieve on different cognitive and developmental levels. The most important factor in how children react to the death is the response of the adults who influence their lives. Caring adults-whether they are parents, relatives or friends- can help children during this tragic time. Handled with warmth and understanding, a child’s early experiences with death can be opportunities to learn about life and living as well as death and dying.

For parents and other adult caregivers, the first step in learning how to help children deal with death is to become educated about grief. Well-intentioned adults sometimes pass on their own anxieties and fears to children they are trying to help. Studies show that children often suffer more from the loss of parental and adult support during this time than from the death itself.

Children in our society are referred to as the forgotten mourners. Children grieve, but all too often, they do not get the opportunity to express their feeling openly. This is a situation concerned adults must address. The challenge is to learn how to establish help-healing relationships with children whose lives have been touched by the death of a loved one. When caring adults meet this challenge, children are capable of reconciling grief in healthy ways.

Grief is complicated and grieving youth know that dealing with grief is hard work. As kids do this work, they need to know that the feelings they have are not something to be ashamed of or something to hide. Remind them in a kind, gentle, supporting way that grief is a normal expression of love for the person who has died.
Each child is unique so the grieve and expressions that kids experience will vary from child to child; however there are common aspects of grief. A feeling of being different or having an incomplete family, loss of appetite or change in sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, and physical and emotional fatigue are common aspects of grief for children and adolescents.

There are many factors, which may determine how long a child or adolescent, grieve and what you can do to help. The identity, age and gender of the deceased, the physical and emotional health, and the relation of the child with the deceased join with other factors such as the circumstances surrounding the death, influence the way a child or adolescent move through the grieving process. Give the child plenty of time to grieve; there are no set rules for grieving. Do not allow other adults define the grief for the child or adolescent.

Grief accompanying sudden loss is often complicated, and professional support can be beneficial. This grief may not hurt worse than grief following an illness, but it can be more disabling. When there was no time for good-byes, for amends or for one final, “I love you,” the child may need extra help.

Children should be allowed to grieve at his or her own pace. There is not a timeline for grief. Significant anniversaries, celebrations, important milestones, births and deaths can trigger re-newal of grieve. Children, adolescents, and teens will mourn for years, but off and on. It’s okay to cry, emotional pain, tears, and sadness is the price we pay for love.

Author's Bio: 

About the Author
Yvonne Clark is the founder of It’s Okay to Cry, Inc. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that addresses children, adolescent and young adult grief related to death and separation. Yvonne created IOTC because of what her sons experienced when they needed grief support after their father was murdered. As founder and director of IOTC Yvonne is a grief support facilitator, speaker and she answers death, dying and grief questions as “Ask the Expert” with

She is a contributing writer for Gary Life Magazine, Business Pro, Southwest Neighborhood News, and consultant for the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. In 2005, she appeared on KHOU-TV, FOX26, UPN20, and a Public Service Announcement for her grief support for the children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In addition to WHERE IS FISHY? Yvonne has two self-help publications addressing love…loss… grief through the eyes of kids.

Yvonne’s a high school counselor; recognized by Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, has two publications addressing grief through the eyes of kids, and an adjunct professor at Houston Community College. Yvonne has a B.B.A. and M.A. in Counseling and Mid-Management Administration and a certification in Christian Counseling.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Yvonne enjoys vintage movies and collecting antiques; as well as spending long weekends and holidays with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

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