BOOK REVIEW: A Child’s View of Grief

A Child’s View of Grief: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Counselors
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph. D.

A Child’s View of Grief is a concise, yet thorough guide for helping and talking to children about death.  Dr. Wolfelt describes our modern culture as “grief avoiding” (5).   He describes the shift from generations past where families witnessed the aging and dying process at home to our current culture where we are less exposed (especially as children) to death and the process of dying.

Dr. Wolfelt goes on to explain that as adults, it is not our job to try and prescribe a grief path for our children, but to be open and allow them to share their feelings and their own unique grief journey with us.  He encourages us to foster a “helping-healing relationship” by being empathetic and trying to understand the child’s point of view (9).

The book contains descriptions of common behaviors to expect from children.  These behaviors range from an apparent lack of feeling to acting out and explosive emotions.  These guides can help you prepare and identify what is happening with your child.

As the book progresses, there is a section on “Guidelines for Involving Children in the Funeral” (37), which provides reasons why it is important for children to attend and gives helpful tips on discussing the funeral, visitation and expectations on what will happen at the funeral.  Finally, Dr. Wolfelt has provided a reworked Mourner’s Bill of Rights for children titled My Grief Rights (51).

This 53 page book is an easy read and a helpful guide for talking to children about death, the funeral and grief.  I recommend this book for parents or anyone who will be dealing closely with children after a loss.


You can purchase A Child’s View of Grief for $6.95 from the bookstore at Dr. Wolfelt’s Center for Loss and Life Transition online.


Works Cited:

Wolfelt, Alan D. A Child’s View of Grief: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Counselors. Fort Collins: Companion Press, 2004. Print.

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