• Danica Thurber

Art activity for a grieving child

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Feeling sad is OK - it's a big emotion that's also a big part of our lives. But children often have a hard time expressing big emotions.

Instead, adults around them may observe outward signs of their inward feelings, such as: stomach aches, fear of the dark or being alone, problems paying attention in school, or regressive behavior.

Oftentimes, the adults in their lives are also grieving the same loss. Is that you, friend?

It's so hard to be able to care for your child while you yourself feel like you're falling apart.

In this video and accompanying art activity, your child will learn about a special kind of sadness: the emotion we call "grief".

Grief is the kind of sadness that you feel when someone dies or leaves. But, more profoundly, “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love," Jamie Anderson writes, "It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot ... Grief is just love with no place to go.”

So where does the love go, when your "someone" isn't here with you? This exercise can help both you and your child see that the love you have for them, and the love they have for you, doesn't go anywhere - it stays!

Even though they're not with you, the love you shared stays right there in your heart - it becomes a part of you.

In this video, I make sure to explain grief in terms that a young child can understand. This is to help you as the adult play your vital role as the primary model in your child's life.

As in all things, they will look to you to learn about how to healthfully grieve (or how to repress it) after a loved one has died or left your life. So, good for you for doing this together! What a powerful way to teach them to deal with the reality of life in healthy, creative, and productive ways.

What you'll need for this project:

  1. something to protect your table surface (I used an old newspaper)

  2. 1 paper plate

  3. 1 pencil

  4. 2 Qtips (yes, the kind you use for your ears)

  5. Acrylic, tempera, or washable paint in 2 colors (pick which ones you want to use out of red, blue, and yellow)

  6. (Optional) printed heart template

Watch the video instructions:

You can get the printable heart template, written instructions, and discussion questions FREE here:

Exciting news! My first children's book about loss & grief is now available on Amazon!

Learn more about it here


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