How to address grief and loss with young children

Samantha Anthony’s job as a clinician addresses kids’ bouts with processing grief

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When it comes to mental health, adults, teens, and even young children process things a bit differently —especially regarding grief and loss.

Samantha Anthony, who serves as a clinician with the Uplift Center for Grieving Children in Philadelphia, says every child’s grief response is unique.

“What we know with children is that [they] respond to grief in a myriad of ways and children respond to different things based on where they are developmentally,” she said.

Anthony adds her job requires listening and comprehension. She says if you listen to what people want, they will tell you what they need.

“It's like saying: well, if I want a dress, I know I need fabric, so we all come with fabric,” she said. “You tailor that dress to the student in front of you, tailor that pair of pants to the student in front of you. But I can't do that if I don't at least have a basic understanding of how to stitch, and what fabric is [useful].”

To the eye of a teacher or any professional who deals with kids, grief can occur for a myriad of reasons. For some kids, grief can take the form of ADHD or depression.

But Anthony says children grieve things beyond death or any mental ailment.

“It may be well I just came from a different country or we're going to a different country soon and things like that,” she says. “the place to begin is by one asking potentially uncomfortable questions and we honor that they can be uncomfortable.”

KYW Newsradio education reporter Mike Denardo and Anthony talk more about how to deal with children and grief in the I’m Listening segment below: 

I’m Listening is Audacy’s annual mental health conversation. Listen to KYW Newsradio’s full 2022 I’m Listening special below, hosted by KYW Newsradio community impact reporter and Bridging Philly host Racquel Williams

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