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Tips for supporting kids and teens when an extended family member dies

Support The Dougy Center this spring with the Reflection Benefit & Porsche Boxster Raffle

What helps? An activity for kids and adults

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March 2020

Tips for supporting kids and teens when an extended family member dies


If you know a child or teen who is grieving the death of a grandparent, auntie, tío, or other extended family member, you might be wondering, “What do I say? How can I help?” Here are a few basic principles to keep in mind:

1. Access support for yourself. If you are parenting or supporting a grieving child, one of the best ways to help is to ensure that you are taking care of yourself.

2. Listen. When children trust you will listen without judgement, interpreting, or minimizing, they’ll be more likely to come to you when they’re hurting or needing advice.

3. Be open to different ways of grieving. Grief looks different for everyone. You can help by letting your child know that all of their thoughts, feelings, and reactions are okay, as long as their behavior does not hurt themselves or anyone else.

4. Provide consistency and routine. Life is often in upheaval after a death, so finding ways to create safety and predictability is helpful.

5. Offer choices. Allowing children to make choices in grief can help re-establish a sense of power, control, and trust.

6. Get creative While some children will talk about their experiences, many will express themselves through art, writing, music, or creative play.

7. Talk about and remember the person who died. By talking and sharing stories, you give children permission to share their feelings and memories.

8. Get extra help if needed. While most children and teens ultimately return to their prior level of functioning following a death, some are potentially at risk for developing challenges such as depression, difficulties at school, or anxiety.

For more on how to support kids and teens after the death of an extended family member, download our Tip Sheet.


Support The Dougy Center this spring with the Reflection Benefit & Porsche Boxster Raffle

Support The Dougy Center

Be part of this beloved Portland tradition! The Dougy Center’s Annual Reflection Benefit Dinner and Auction, presented by KinderCare Education, is coming Friday, May 8th. The largest fundraising event for The Dougy Center, this fabulous evening begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum and includes a silent auction showcasing a gallery of children’s art, an elegant dinner, and a live auction filled with unique packages.

The evening culminates with the announcement of the Porsche Boxster Raffle winner! Don’t miss out on your chance to win a brand new Porsche Boxster valued at more than $63,000. Sponsored in part by Porsche Beaverton, tickets for the 23rd annual raffle are just $100 each and only 2,000 will be sold. Purchase your tickets before noon on April 8 and you will also be entered to win $500!

How you can join the fun:
- Become an event sponsor. Your business will receive public recognition, including a program ad, event signage, and more. Plus reserved seating for up to 20 guests.
- Purchase Reflection benefit tickets to attend this fun-filled evening.
- Donate to the live or silent auctions.
- Purchase tickets for the Porsche Boxster raffle. You do not need to be present to win.

All proceeds from the Benefit and Porsche Boxster Raffle directly fund The Dougy Center’s grief support programs for children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving the death of a parent or sibling.


What helps? An activity for kids and adults

When someone you love has died or is living with an advanced serious illness, every part of you might need some extra help.

This activity, taken from Family Ties Through an Advanced Serious Illness, published by The Dougy Center in partnership with First Tech Federal Credit Union, can help both kids and adults identify what is helpful for them when life gets overwhelming.

In each section of this activity sheet, write down what makes your heart, mind, body, and spirit feel better. You can find a printable version here.

Visit The Dougy Center bookstore for more information on Family Ties and other resources.

What helps activity


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