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Supporting children through loss

Illustration of a sad young woman in a helpful hand
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Parenting | Social and Emotional Learning | Teaching

Supporting children through loss

Patricia Karlin-Neumann talks about how to help young people experiencing grief.

Now more than ever, young people are coping with grief as they face loss of all kinds, including that of loved ones, routine and their own sense of safety.

Resisting the impulse to try and “fix” the situation can go a long way toward healing, says Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, senior associate dean for religious life at Stanford University. “We’re so good at fixing things, at being able to just shove our emotions away and do our work with our heads down,” she says. “But this is one of those things that just can’t be fixed.”

On this episode of School’s In, Rabbi Karlin-Neumann joins Stanford Graduate School of Education Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about the different ways in which young people experience grief, and how adults can support their children through whatever form it takes.

“Children feel their emotions very powerfully,” she says. “To preclude them from feeling pain is not helpful to them.” 

When it comes to preparing young people for the discomfort of grief, Rabbi Karlin-Neumann suggests being “far more honest than you might be inclined to be.”

“Children know when something’s wrong. They know when someone’s ill, they know when there’s a shock to the system,” she says. “By trying to protect them, part of what you’re doing is closing off an avenue for them to be able to ask questions, to share what they’re feeling, to understand something about the world.”

You can listen to School's In on SiriusXM, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

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