Expressing Feelings


Angry Feelings

boy with teddybearPhoto © VeerYour child might feel angry at or upset with the parent for dying. You might say, “I know you’re upset that Mom died. Sometimes I feel like that, too.”

Providing Outlets

Grieving children may need to express their anger or frustration. You might encourage your child to:

  • Run outside
  • Pound on play dough
  • Throw beanbags
  • Create music
  • Listen to calm music
  • Take deep breaths

boys head to head, talking togetherPhoto © Getty ImagesChildren experience a wide range of feelings —anger, sadness, hopelessness, disappointment, confusion, loneliness, guilt, worry—but they may not always have the words to identify these emotions. Assure your child over and over that everyone, including yourself, has big feelings, and there are no feelings too big—or too little—to talk about. Here are some ideas for shared activities or discussions:

  • Share your feelings. It may take some time before your child wants to talk about what happened. He may try to spare you and others by keeping his feelings inside. Create a time and place for sharing and talking each day. For example, at bedtime, you might sit with him and say, “I’m feeling ­­­______. How are you feeling?”
  • Tell stories. Using dolls and puppets, make up stories and act out feelings with your child.
  • Communicate on paper. Drawing pictures is a great way for younger children to communicate. For older children, writing in a journal may be helpful.
  • Play. Even during the grief process, not all feelings may be painful ones. Your child might still enjoy playing with his favorite toys or laughing at silly jokes.
  • Take time to listen. Truly listening to your child will help you know where to lead the conversation. While you can’t take away those difficult thoughts and feelings, you can make sure your child knows that you’re listening.

Next: Saying Good-Bye


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