The vast majority of children experience the death of a close family member or friend. Bereavement can have a profound and long-term impact on children’s psychological adjustment, academic achievement, and personal development. This session will discuss basic skills for pediatric healthcare providers in how to talk with and support grieving children and families and outline some of the unique challenges posed by grief during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Scope in Pediatrics

  • 5% of children experience the death of a parent

  • 90% of children experience the death of a close family member or friend

  • Bereavement has a significant and often long-term impact on a child’s learning, social and emotional development, behavior, and adjustment

Teaching Points

  • Even before the pandemic, approximately 9 of 10 children experience the death of a family member or friend; 1 of 20 experience the death of a parent 
  • Pediatricians can play an important role by ensuring that grieving children receive support at home and at school 
  • It is important to acknowledge the loss with children in your practice; there are general considerations about what to say – and what not to say – to a grieving child 
  • It’s important to identify and address guilt reactions which are common among grieving children 
  • The pandemic has caused widespread distress among children, but much of that is related to loss rather than to trauma – we need to be both trauma-informed and grief-sensitive 
  • There are unique challenges in supporting grieving children during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Free professional development resources on bereavement are available from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students (the AAP is a member of the Coalition) 


For COVID related questions, please email
For Mental Health related questions, please email
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Special Acknowledgment

The AAP gratefully acknowledges support for the Pediatric Mental Health Minute in the form of an educational grant from SOBI.