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Poll Offers Insight into Childhood Loss and Gives Hope for Healing

Support and Communication Is Key for Kids Along Their Grief Journey

Kids who have lost a parent or sibling bear a burden of sorrow and anxiety, and are often left to suffer alone and in silence, according to the results groundbreaking nationwide poll released recently by the New York Life Foundation and the National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC). Despite this isolation, many kids strive to be resilient in the face of their grief with the support of friends, family and the community.

The poll was conducted at bereavement centers nationwide with children and teenagers under the age of 19. Key findings include:

• 75% of bereaved kids say they are currently sad.
• 41% have reacted to their loss in harmful ways -- physically, emotionally or mentally.
• Many worry about losing surviving parent or guardian.
• Kids value communication about loss, but feel it’s lacking: Many say “most people don’t know how to talk to you after a loved one dies.”   
• Half of kids give school no better than a “C” grade at helping them cope.
• Two-thirds still continue to “enjoy life,” most say the future will “hopefully still be good.”
• Many find it helpful to talk to others who have experienced grief.

“The death of a loved one is incredibly hard and isolating for children,” says Chris Park, president of the New York Life Foundation.  “It engenders sadness, anger, loneliness, confusion, guilt – emotions that all too often are suffered in isolation.  Kids in grief are trying hard to cope and heal, but it’s clear that they desperately need our help to do so.

“But we are a grief-averse society, apparently hoping that if we just ignore grief, it will go away,” Park continues.  “As a result, families in grief – children in particular – often are left to suffer alone and in silence, without sufficient understanding and support from the people and institutions that could truly make a difference for them.”

As part of its commitment to children in need, the Foundation has created several resources intended to help individuals help kids and families who are grieving. Among them is the brochure “The Grief Journey of a Child,” as well as the website, which offers additional informational and educational resources for parents, kids, educators, and the public regarding loss.

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Poll Offers Insight into Childhood Loss and Gives Hope for Healing

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