Grief Support

Fairhaven Public Schools

GRIEF SUPPORT for Children and Families

For immediate Grief Support: 

Contact your School Counselor for support and referral, if needed.

Other Local Agencies offering Support:

South Coast Bereavement Services

Counseling (Individual and Group)

Camp Angel Wings

(508) 973-3227

NBCFS (individual, group, and family counseling)

Amanda Phillips, Director-School Based

Chanda Coutinho, Site Director

(508) 996-8572

Greater New Bedford Trauma Response Network

(508) 993-6242

New Bedford Area Grief Support Group

Pastor David Lima, Coordinator

(508) 992-7505

Coalition to Support Grieving Students

Comfort Zone Camp

If having a mental health crisis requiring support:

New Bedford Crisis Center/Mobile Crisis 

Pam Bolarino, ES Director: (508) 996-3154

Matthew Boyd, Mobile Crisis Director: (508) 996-3154

Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741

How to deal with the grieving process

While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.

  1. Acknowledge your pain.
  2. Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  3. Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
  4. Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
  5. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
  6. Recognize the difference between grief and depression.

Guidelines to keep in mind (talking to children)

The words you choose will vary depending upon the child’s age and developmental stage, but experts agree that no matter what the age of the child there are certain guidelines you should stick to:

  • Follow their lead. 
  • The kinds of questions and concerns that children have can be very different from those of adults. 
  • Giving children too much information can overwhelm them. It is better to let them ask questions and then answer in the best (and most developmentally appropriate) way you can. 
  • Don’t be surprised if young children are mostly concerned about themselves. That is simply how young children are.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings.
  • Do not try to “protect” or “shelter” children by attempting to hide your own sadness. They will invariably know that something is wrong, but will be left feeling alone and confused. 
  • Hiding your own grief can also make children feel like the sadness they may be feeling is bad. 
  • However, try not to let children see you at your most upset moments, as they may begin to worry about you or feel insecure.
  • Don’t use euphemisms. Avoid phrases like “passed away,” “gone,” “we lost him.” 
  • Kids tend to be very literal, and this kind of fuzzy language leaves them anxious, scared and often confused. Or conversely, it may lead them to believe the deceased will come back and that death is not permanent.
  • Maintain normal routines as much as possible. 
  • Grief takes time but children benefit from the security of regular routines and knowing that life goes on.
  • Memorialize the person who died. 
  • Remembering is part of grieving and part of healing. This can be as simple as sharing memories of the person who died or bringing up the name of the person who died so that your child knows it’s not taboo to talk about and remember that person. It is important to keep photos around, too.

Here are a few activities that may help you cope while grieving:

Go for a walk

Call an old friend

Take a nap



Do yoga

Write in your journal

Color in a book

Brush your teeth

Tidy up a room

Organize your day

Reflect in gratitude

Watch a movie

Eat a favorite meal

Spend time cooking


Go for a run

Buy a new outfit

Listen to nature sounds

Write a letter

Watch a documentary

Take a shower

Take a warm bath

Read a book

Binge on Netflix

Watch favorite sports program Go for a hike

Go to the movies

Experience a live play Spend time at a museum

Go to a sports game GardenHave a picnic

Watch funny videos

Do the laundry

Get a massage

Dust your house

Have a game night Get a haircut

Go out to eat

Join a new club

Go through pictures

Make a scrapbook

Spend time with pets

Make a shadow box

Buy yourself flowers Listen to music  

Look at the stars

Eat a piece of fresh fruit

Bake cookies

Explore a new hobby

Make a Memory Box Hone a skill you have

Stand out in the rain


Stop and smell a flower


Build a birdhouse

Rake Leaves/Cut Grass

Make a HandPrint

Sort Buttons

Draw a Picture

Press Flowers


Make a Christmas Ornament

Vacuum house

Vacuum Car

Wash your car

Explore a cause you believe in

Plan your short weekend trip Take a short weekend trip

Volunteer at a local shelter Spend time with friends

Invite family over for a movie Visit a local historical place

Attend classes you’ve always wanted Appreciate the simple things

Write down favorite memories Spend time with children

Attend religious/spiritual services Do nothing and veg on the couch

Watch funny/cute youtube videos Make a Sculptured Memory

Shop for memorialization items

Learn a new language

Volunteer for a cause you believe in Knitting or a craft you enjoy

Indulge in Chocolate (or any sweet!) Bring a gift to a neighbor

Look at pictures you enjoy Take photos of nature

Watch the sunset/sunrise Listen to a child’s laughter

Draw boundaries with negative influences

Rearrange your furniture

Spend intimate time with your partner

Spend time with a friend

Commit yourself to a good cause Discover a new place and visit it

Appreciate the small moments of calm Spend time with horses

List 3 great qualities about yourself Spend time with chickens

Buy a new book and read it from cover to cover

Take a step toward your goals

Try a new food you’ve never had before Make vacation plans

Donate to a good cause Teach a friend something new

Search for new inspirational quotes Start a blog and write your story

Join a new community or meetup group Spend time mindlessly browsing the web

Set aside 15 minutes in a quiet place and give yourself permission to grieve.

Attend a grief support group

Explore your city/town



The Stages of Grief

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

The five stages of grief:

  1. Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  2. Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  3. Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  4. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  5. Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Emotional symptoms of grief

Shock and disbelief. 

Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.


Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.


You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.


Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.


A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.

Physical symptoms of Grief

We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lowered immunity
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Aches and pains
  • Insomnia

Children's Books on Grief, Loss and Death

Sometimes a story is the best way to open a dialogue with a child.  Often reading a story can help children know they are not alone and normalize what they are experiencing.  It can offer a safe way to open a dialogue with children about death and grief. Here is a list of 64 children’s books about grief.   The books are primarily for ages 3-10, but often can be used for older children as well. 


1. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children (kids 5+)

2.The Invisible String (kids 3+)

3. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Reading Rainbow)  (kids 5-8)

4. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (kids 6-9)

5. I’ll Always Love You (kids 3-7)

6. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families) (kids 4-8)

7. I Miss You: A First Look at Death (First Look at Books) (kids 4+)

8. The Saddest Time (kids 6-9)

9. Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss  (kids 8+)

10. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages (kids 4+)

11. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying (kids 4+)

12. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss (kids 4-8)

13. Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile: A Story About Coping With the Loss of a Parent (kids 5+)

14. The Scar (kids 5-9)

15. A Terrible Thing Happened (kids 4+)

16. The Elephant in the Room: A Children's Book for Grief and Loss (kids 4+)

17. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad (kids 4+)  

18. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

19. Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children (kids 4+)

20. When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 5+)

21. Someone I Love Died (kids 4-8)

22. What Happened When Grandma Died? (kids 4+)

23. Always and Forever (kids 4+)

24. Badger’s Parting Gifts (kids 4-8)

25. Ghost Wings (kids 5+)

26. Finding Grandpa Everywhere: A Young Child Discovers Memories of a Grandparent (kids 7+)

27. The Grandpa Tree (kids 3+)

28. Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 6+)

29. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins) (kids 4-8)

30. Daddy, Up and Down: Sisters Grieve the Loss of Their Daddy (kids 4-8)

31. Saying Goodbye to Daddy (kids 4+)

32. The Angel with the Golden Glow: A Family’s Journey Through Loss and Healing (kids 4+)

33. Where’s Jess: For Children Who Have a Brother or Sister Die (kids 3-6)

34. A Taste of Blackberries (kids 8-12)

35. Bridge to Terabithia (kids 8-12)

36. My Grandson Lew (kids 4-6)

37. Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope: A Read Aloud Story for People of All Ages About Loving and Losing, Friendship and Hope (as the title says, people of all ages!)

38. The Empty Place: A Child’s Guide Through Grief (Let’s Talk) (kids 5-10)

39. Dancing on the Moon (kids 3+)  

40. Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister (kids 6+)

41. Stacy Had a Little Sister (A Concept Book) (kids 4+)

42. Ragtail Remembers: A Story That Helps Children Understand Feelings of Grief (kids 4+)

43. Goodbye Mousie (kids 4-8)

44. Remembering Crystal (kids 3+)

45. Rudi’s Pond (kids 5-8)

46. The Memory String (kids 4-8)

47. Sammy in the Sky (kids 4-8)

48. Where Do People Go When They Die? (kids 3-8)

49. Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories (kids 3-8)

50. Her Mother’s Face (kids 4-8)

51. Remembering Mama (kids 4+) 

52. Old Pig (Picture Puffin) (kids 3-8)

53. Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa (kids 3-7)

54. Saying Goodbye to Lulu (kids 3-6)

55. The Mountains of Tibet (kids 7+)

56. Rabbityness (kids 3-7)

57. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

58. Can You Hear Me Smiling?: A Child Grieves a Sister (kids 8+)

59. The Copper Tree (kids 5-8)

60. Everybody Feels Sad (kids 4+)

61. Grief is Like a Snowflake (kids 4+)

62. My Baby Big Sister: A Book for Children Born Subsequent to a Pregnancy Loss (kids 4-8)

63. Ladder to the Moon (kids 4-8)

64. Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement (kids 3-8).

**These books may be available on the ‘Audible App’ for free or through Amazon. 

Additional Online Resources

Help Guide: Coping with Grief and Loss

American Counseling Association: Grief and Loss Resources  

Psych Central: Coping with Grief

American Psychological Association: Grief Coping with the loss of your loved one 

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