Grief is pretty confusing and painful no matter how old you are. But it can feel especially hard to try and explain to children the reality of death, as we may be afraid of upsetting them, we may not be sure what they can understand, and we may worry they lack the vocabulary to explain how they feel.

Fortunately, one thing that has been proven to have a tremendously positive impact for children, particularly those who are struggling with grief, is allowing them to create something with arts and crafts.

This is due to the fact that arts and crafts can be a unique outlet for the grieving child to be able to express their emotions and thoughts while providing a sense of safety or control and the ability to communicate without talking.

So, if you’re a parent, teacher, nanny, or otherwise caretaker of children, here are three crafts to try that may help a child who is dealing with grief.

Sand Jars

Many of us have probably seen or created a sand jar within our lifetime.

For a child who is dealing with grief, it can be a great exercise for processing all the different emotions that come with loss. These emotions; happy, sad, angry, confused, etc. - can be represented by different colors of sand.

Items you will need:

  1. Colored sand
  2. Transparent glass or plastic container (must have a lid)
  3. Funnel

How to Complete:

  1. Prepare your items.
  2. Ask the child to think about the emotions that they’re feeling related to their grief.
  3. Then ask the child,”If these emotions each had a different color, what would those colors be?”
  4. For each emotion, pour the corresponding color into the jar. If possible, allow the child to do the pouring. Let them know that the amount of each color doesn’t matter… just do whatever feels right.
  5. Repeat this process with each emotion/color until the jar is full. Allow a little bit of room at the top of the jar so that the child can shake it up if they want to. We all know how messy and mixed up grief can be.
  6. Explain to the child how all of these emotions can exist together.

Worry Stones

Craft stones

Have you ever seen those little stones that are at the cash register of gift shops? They often display a positive affirmation, or symbolize a thought or prayer for peace, hope, love, etc.

For a child who is dealing with grief, having one of these stones can be calming, as they can be held onto or rubbed to help ease any negative emotions that may come up.

Items you will need:

  1. Flour
  2. Salt
  3. Warm water
  4. Gel food coloring
  5. Sparkly glitter

How to Complete:

  1. Prepare your items.
  2. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add warm water and stir to create a doughy paste. If it’s too dry add a little more water until a dough is formed.
  4. Add food coloring and mix in the glitter.
  5. Now have the child form the dough into a shape of their choice and add indenting to the sides a little bit with their thumbs. This will allow a difference in texture for the child once dried to gently rub with their thumbs and forefinger to calm themselves down when needed.
  6. Let sit overnight or until completely hardened.
  7. Explain to the child why the stone was made and recommend carrying the stone with them so that they have it at all times whenever negative emotions may be stirred up. The child can also name the stone if they’d like, and let them know that it’s okay to see the stone as a friend they can talk to or have as a source of comfort.

Memory Boxes

We’ve all held onto things that were important to us; cards, trophies, letters, pictures, etc. So, why not put them all together in one place where they can be revisited time and time again?

For a child who is dealing with grief, precious items from the loved one who they’ve lost or items that remind them of their loved one can be kept in a special box. This box can then be kept in a safe place and brought back out when the child is feeling anything related to their grief.

Items you will need:

  1. Box (of whatever desired size and shape)
  2. Craft paper, ribbons, stickers, buttons, etc. (any desired decorative craft items)
  3. Scissors
  4. Clear drying glue

How to Complete:

  1. Prepare your items. While shopping, see if the child would like to pick out their own decorative objects.
  2. Help the child to decorate their box however they’d like; remind them that there’s no wrong way to do it and that however they want to decorate it is okay.
  3. Help the child to pick out the items that they would like to have in the box.
  4. Explain to the child the significance of having the box and how it can always be revisited later whenever necessary.



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