Remembering a childhood friend

Children and adolescents grieve in their own way according to their unique developmental timeline. It can be challenging for parents and adults to understand their children’s grief reactions and how to best support them. This discussion group will feature topics that relate to supporting children and teens in managing the big feelings of grief.

Remembering a childhood friend

Postby KarenH » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:55 pm

I talked to a mom recently who wanted to check in about renewed grief reactions her 13-year old daughter was experiencing related to the death of a friend several years ago. From time to time, her daughter would spend time looking at pictures, and talking about what her friend might be like today if she hadn't died. Mom wondered if this was ok, or if it was anything she should be worried about.

When someone special dies, it's normal to want to hold on to memories of that person. It's also normal for our grief to come "out of nowhere" from time to time, even years after the death. This is true for kids, teens and adults. For kids and teens, memories and feelings of grief may be especially noticeable around special events and developmental milestones. In this case, the girl and her other friends were all celebrating their thirteenth birthdays and experiencing all the great and sometimes NOT great things that middle school brings...changing social groups, new interests, growing up, etc. Indications that life for them continues on without their old friend.

Mom assured me that her daughter is involved in school and active with her other friends. She is able to spend time looking at old photographs and reminiscing, but doesn't feel "stuck" or hopeless in her grief. For her, this seems to be a way that she continues to remember her friend, and to make sense of the place she had in her life. I encouraged her to listen when her daughter wants to talk, look at the pictures with her, laugh at the happy memories, and to make sure she knows help is available if her feelings ever become more than she can manage on her own.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? How have you handled it?
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