Providing ongoing support for grieving children

Grief over time and puddle jumping

Grief proceeds on its own terms. For example, a younger child’s grief is different from that of an adult. Children may display grief reactions that can be compared to jumping in and out of puddles and is often referred to as puddle jumping. One minute they are very sad and the next they are laughing and playing, their grief seemingly forgotten.

There is no set time frame for how long children grieve, they don’t get over grief in a fixed amount of time. Children also experience grief differently over time and will revisit their previous experiences of grief each time they reach a new developmental age and cognitive understanding.  In many ways children never get over a significant loss and the death of a loved one, be it a family member of friend and therefore changes and special days in their lives will always remind them of that loss.

It is important therefore that support for the grieving child and family be ongoing and not only immediately after the death.

Watch a video on puddle jumping

The video below from Child Bereavement UK, describes how grieving children seem to jump in and out of their grief very quickly like they’re jumping in and out of a puddle.

Supporting children and adolescents when someone dies

An article Ten Tips for Supporting Children who are Grieving can be found online at the Dougy Centre for Grieving suggests numerous ways in which children and adolescents who have lost family and friends can be supported. Below is a summary of these suggestions:

Support for grieving children in South Africa

Khululeka Grief Support is a Non-Profit Organisation based in Cape Town with a mission to build the resilience of children, adolescents and adults who care for them by equipping them with tools to process their experiences of loss and death.

They provide several appropriate resources, including the KHU KIT – an excellent resource to help those caring for bereaved children to help them understand grief and loss, and to provide support to children. The KHU Kit provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of age and developmental stage on understanding and processing grief. It includes tips on appropriate and helpful responses. It highlights common causes of premature death in South Africa and how to explain these in an age-appropriate way. It focuses on how to plan and facilitate a grief and loss support group for bereaved children offering a range of activities and stories to help facilitate particular topics and emotions.

The KHU KIT costs R300 and can be purchased online from

The website also provides several Free Tools which can be downloaded and printed. Click on the image below to download these tools from the Khululeka website.

The PatchSA website also has a number of resources for adults and children on grief and bereavement.