10 Tips on Surviving Loss :: How to Remain Present for Your Child While Grieving


woman looks out the window grieving

I have a five-year-old. No matter the time of year or circumstance, I am mom. When grief weighs me down, I still have to show up for her.

To live in a world where your person isn’t — everything is the same, yet, completely different. How can we make room for our own sadness and grief when we have these tiny humans who rely on us? I am definitely still figuring it out. My loss is still very new and raw, and most days are still a struggle.

Here are 10 things that help me remain present for my child while still allowing myself the space I need to grieve.

>> RELATED READ :: Anticipating Loss Is Also Grief <<


  1. Talk to your child. Death is a scary but normal thing. Explain in an age appropriate way the dying process. By helping my child understand death, it allows me to talk about it openly without worrying I am going to scare her.
  2. Be prepared for lots of questions. Think about some of the silliest questions your children ask on a daily basis as they process the world around them. Now imagine those questions after a death. When their bones go in the ground, they come up on Halloween, right? What happens if you drop the dust and it gets in your eye? You will laugh. You will cry. But always try and answer their questions in the best way possible. 
  3. Transparency is key. Grief comes in waves. I need my daughter to know my grief has nothing to do with her, so I tell her I am sad because my person died. I won’t forget her hopping out of the car one night and yelling to her dad, “Mom is in the car crying because she is sad her person died! She will be inside in a minute!” It is okay to be emotional in front of your children; don’t be afraid to let it out.
  4. Don’t feel obligated. Cancel the plans. Ask someone else to step in for you. Just don’t go. It is okay to be selfish right now. If being around others or too many commitments feels overwhelming, it is okay to say no. If you say “yes” and change your mind half-way through, that’s okay, too!
  5. Make time for yourself. What helps you recharge? Grief is all consuming, and I often have to force myself to take the time I need. Does your typical activity remind you of your loss? It is okay to try something new. Give your grief some PTO, take time to recharge and reset.
  6. Speak your truth. Don’t feel obligated to sugar coat your grief so others feel comfortable.
    • I am not okay, but thanks for checking in.
    • I am not doing well, but hoping to have a good day anyway.
    • I am glad to have this distraction, but still struggling with this loss. 
  7. Lean on your partner. Remember the vows you took? The promises you made? Cash it all in now. Have an honest conversation: Sorry, babe, I am ugly crying, only eating chips, and honestly can’t remember the last time I showered, but I need you to love me through it. And he will. That’s why you picked them. No matter your parenting dynamic, ask for help. Now is the time to lean on them more than ever.
  8. Allow yourself to be happy. This one is tough and I still struggle with it. You can simultaneously mourn the loss of your loved one and enjoy the life you have. Allow yourself to smile, laugh, and have good days.
  9. Utilize resources. Whether you prefer connecting with others in a group, or losing yourself in a book about grieving, The Warm Place has many resources. I prefer books, and one that has gotten me through the past few months is Grief is Love: Living with Loss. I also spoke to my doctor about my mental health; don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  10. Give yourself some grace. Grief is deeply personal. No one’s journey after loss will look the same. I have yelled at my daughter for no reason, eaten my feelings, ignored my friends, cried myself to sleep night after night . . . the list goes on and on. These feelings continue to cycle and mistakes continue to be made.
>> RELATED READ :: Teaching Our Kids to Lament <<

Healing isn’t linear, it’s a process. Forgive yourself. Continue to forgive yourself. 

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Jessica S
Originally from upstate New York, Jessica has lived in the Fort Worth area since 2001. She has been married to her husband for more than 10 years, and they have a spectacular nearly five-year-old daughter through adoption. Jessica was previously very active in animal rescue and now has three dogs, a cat, a fish, a frog, and some snails for good measure. She is an aspiring plant mom and coffee enthusiast, but is really only good at one of those things. When she isn't juggling work, play dates, or every day life, you can often find her crafting. Jessica is looking forward to her next stage of parenthood as an elementary-school mom.


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