Helping Children When A Family Member Has Cancer: When A Child Has Lost A Parent

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How do I find out more about loss?

This short introduction is offered to help you get started looking into deeper and ongoing resources to help a child who has lost a parent. We have included a list of books, Web sites, and organizations that you can use to help your child.

As the surviving parent, you have also had a major loss with this death. You might want to learn more about coping with your own grief and loss, too. Remember that children cope better when their caregiver is emotionally healthy, so don’t hesitate to ask for help for yourself if you think you need it. For more information on dealing with adult grief, see Coping With the Loss of a Loved One. You can read it on our Web site,, or call us at 1-800-227-2345 and ask for a copy.

Some of the resources below also deal with adult grief.

If you need information for families who have lost a child, please contact us for Resources for Parents and Families Who Have Lost a Child to Cancer, or read it on our Web site.

To learn more

The following list of books, Web sites, and organizations may provide useful information for people who are going through a loss or discussing death with children.

National organizations and Web sites*

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information and support include:

Web site for adults:
Web site for children:

    Online groups for adult grief support; separate online support groups for children under 12 and for teens (with consent from parent or guardian)

The Centering Corporation
Toll-free number: 1-866-218-0101
Web site:

    Information and resources on bereavement and loss, for children and adults

Kids Konnected
Toll-free number: 1-800-899-2866 (If you get voicemail, leave a message to get a call back)
Web site:

    For children and teens who have a parent with cancer and for those who have lost a parent to cancer

The Dougy Center
Toll-free number: 1-866-775-5683
Web site:

    Information for grieving children, teens, and adults. They refer to programs across the country and around the world that serve grieving children, teens, and their families.

You may also want to contact your local hospice or hospital for bereavement support groups in your area.

Other publications*

Books for adults

Bereaved Children and Teens: A Support Guide for Parents and Professionals by Earl A. Grollman. Published by Beacon Press, 1996.

The Bereaved Parent by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff. Published by Penguin, 1977.

The Bereaved Parents’ Survival Guide by Juliet Cassuto Rothman. Published by Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997.

Beyond the Innocence of Childhood: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Death and Bereavement. (Professional Practices in Adult Education and Human Resource) by David W. Adams and Eleanor J. Deveau. Published by Baywood Publishing Company, 1995.

Children’s Conceptions of Death by Richard Lonetto. Published by Springer, 1980. (Check cancer center reading room, libraries, or online for used copies.)

Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies by J.William Worden. Published by Guilford Press, 1996.

Explaining Death to Children by Earl Grollman. Published by Beacon Press,1987.

Gili’s Book: A Journey Into Bereavement for Parents and Counselors by Henya Kagan Klein. Published by Teachers College Press, 1998.

Grieving: How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies Theresa A. Rando. Published by Lexington Books: 1995.

Guiding Your Child Through Grief by James P. and Mary Ann Emswiler. Published by Bantam, 2000.

Helping Children Cope with Death by Donna L. Schuurman. Published by the Dougy Center, 1997. Also available in Spanish.

Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups by William C. Kroen and Pamela Espeland. Published by Free Spirit Publishing, 1996.

Healing Children’s Grief: Surviving a Parent’s Death From Cancer by Grace Christ. Published by Oxford University Press, 2000.

Helping Children Cope With the Death of a Parent: A Guide for the First Year by Paddy Greenwall Lewis and Jessica G. Lippman. Published by Praeger Publishers, 2004.

Helping Teens Cope with Death published by the Dougy Center, 1999.

It’s Okay to Cry: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Through the Losses of Life (Workbook) by Norman Wright. Published by Waterbrook Press, 2004.

Never the Same: Coming to Terms With the Death of a Parent by Donna Schuurman. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2003.

On Children and Death: How Children and Their Parents Can and Do Cope With Death by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Published by Touchstone, 1997.

Relative Grief: Parents and Children, Sisters and Brothers, Husbands, Wives and Partners, Grandparents and Grandchildren Talk About Their Experience of Death and Grief by Dorothy Rowe, Judy Merry, and Clare Jenkins. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2005.

Talking With Children About Loss: Words, Strategies, and Wisdom to Help Children Cope With Death, Divorce, and Other Difficult Times by Maria Trozzie. Published by Childhood Education, 2000.

35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child by the Dougy Center Staff. Published by The Dougy Center, 1999. Also available in Spanish.

Understanding Children’s Experiences of Parental Bereavement by John Holland. Published by Kingsley Publishers, 2001.

What About the Kids? Understanding Their Needs in Funeral Planning and Services by The Dougy Center for Grieving Children. Published by the Dougy Center, 1999.

When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children by Wendy S. Harpham. Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004.

When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal With Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses by John W James, Russell Friedman, and Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews. Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

Books for children

A Candle for Grandpa: A Guide to the Jewish Funeral for Children and Parents by David Techner, Judith Hirt-Manheimer, and Joel Iskowitz. Published by Urg Press, 1993. Ages 4 to 8.

A Complete Book About Death for Kids by Earl Grollman and Joy Johnson. Published by Centering Corporation, 2006. Ages 4 to 8.

A Pillow for My Mom by Clarissa Sgourous and Christine Ross. Published by Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 1998. Ages 5 to 9.

After Charlotte’s Mom Died by Cornelia Spelman and Judith Friedman. Published by Albert Whitman & Co., 1996. Ages 5 to 7.

After the Funeral by Jane Loretta Winsch. Published by Paulist Press, 1995. Ages 4 to 8.

Always and Forever by Alan Durant and Debi Gliori. Published by Harcourt Children’s Books, 2004. Preschool to grade 3.

And Still They Bloom by Amy Rovere. Published by the American Cancer Society, 2012. Ages 9-12.

Anna’s Corn by Barbara Santucci and Lloyd Bloom. Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2002. Ages 4 to 8.

Bluebird Summer by Deborah Hopkinson and Bethanne Andersen. Published by Greenwillow, 2001. Ages 4 to 8.

Don’t Despair on Thursdays!: The Children’s Grief-Management Book (The Emotional Impact Series) by Adolph Moser and David Melton. Published by Landmark Editions, 1996. Ages 9 and up.

Facing Change: Coming Together & Falling Apart in the Teen Years. Compassion Press, 2004. Best for teens.

Fire in My Heart: Ice in My Veins by Enid Samuel-Traisman. Published by Centering Corporation, 2003. Best for teens.

Goodbye Mousie by Robie H. Harris and Jan Omerod. Published by Margaret K. McElderry, 2001. Preschool to grade 2.

Grandma’s Purple Flowers by Adjoa J. Burrowes. Published by Lee & Low Books, 2000. Ages 4 to 8.

Grandma’s Scrapbook by Josephine Nobisso and Maureen Hyde. Published by Gingerbread House, 2000 (Revised edition). Ages 4 to 8.

Grandpa Loved by Josephine Nobisso and Maureen Hyde. Published by Gingerbread House, 2000 (Revised edition). Ages 7 and up.

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies by Janis Silverman. Published by Fairview Press, 1999. Ages 5 to 9.

How It Feels When a Parent Dies by Jill Krementz. Published by Knopf, 1988. Ages 7 to 17.

I Know I Made It Happen: Children and Guilt by Lynn Bennett Blackburn. 2003. Published by Centering Corporation. Best for ages 6 to 12.

I Miss You: A First Look At Death by Pat Thomas and Lesley Harker. Published by Barron’s Educational Series, 2001. Ages 5 to 9.

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen. Published by Bantam, 1983. Ages 6 to 11.

My Grieving Journey Book by Donna Shavatt and Eve Shavatt. Published by Paulist Press, 2002. Ages 4 to 8.

Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids) by Michaelene Mundy and R.W. Alley. Published by Abbey Press, 2010. Ages 6 and up.

Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert and Chuck DeKlyen. Published by Grief Watch, 2nd Revised Edition, 2001. Ages 8 and up.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages by Leo Buscaglia. Published by Henry Holt & Co, 1982. Ages 4 to 8.

The Saddest Time (An Albert Whitman Prairie Book) by Norma Simon and Jacqueline Rogers. Published by Albert Whitman & Company, reprinted 1992. Ages 4 to 8.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst. Published by MacMillan Publishing, 1987. Ages 5 and up.

Transitions Along the Way: A Guide to the Dying Process for Children and Young Adults by Stephanie Jonah. Published by Visions, 1999. Ages 9 and up. (May be hard to find; check in the cancer center reading room, libraries, and used books.)

When Bad Things Happen: A Guide to Help Kids Cope (Elf-Help Books for Kids) by Ted O’Neal and Robert W. Alley. Published by One Caring Place, Abbey Press, 2003. Ages 6 and up.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown. Published by Little, Brown, and Company, 1996. Ages 4 to 8.

When a Grandparent Dies: A Kid’s Own Remembering Workbook for Dealing With Shiva and the Year Beyond by Nechama Liss-Levenson and Karen Savary. Published by Jewish Lights Publishing, 1995. Ages 4 to 8. (May be hard to find; check in the cancer center reading room, libraries, and used books.)

When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief (Elf-Help Books for Kids) by Victoria Ryan and Robert W. Alley. Published by Abbey Press, 2002. Ages 4 to 8.

*Inclusion on these lists does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society

Last Medical Review: 08/07/2012
Last Revised: 08/07/2012