Resiliency-A Lifetime Asset

Activity For Grieving Tweens and Teens


I believe becoming aware of our emotions is a critical step in the grieving process. When we are aware, we can truly make a choice of how we want to experience each day.

Here is one of my favorite activities I’ve shared with middle school children in the child bereavement program I volunteer in, which demonstrates this idea:

  1. Each child receives a small box. They are told that the outside of the box represents their outer personality, which he or she shows to the world.
  2. Each child receives a hand-out listing all the different emotions. (Sadness-anger-joy-jealousy-confusion-happy-hopeless-tired-etc...there are duplicates of every emotion)
  3. Each student is asked to cut out the listed emotions they usually feel within themselves, and place them inside the box.
  4. Then each student is asked to cut out the emotions they outwardly share with their friends and classmates in their personality at school. They are to glue the pieces of paper to the outside of the box.

Naturally, this opens up a great discussion about how the students really feel during the grieving process versus how they show themselves to the people in their world.

Becoming aware of this gives them the opportunity to have compassion for themselves and for other grieving tweens, as they notice others in the group sharing the same idea. Often they speak of how their non-grieving peers really don’t know what to say or do. (That’s a story and lesson for another time …)

We then discuss when and if their emotions will change – both inside and outside - and what they would ideally like to feel. I bring in the word “authentic”, and we discuss what an authentic life might look like as well. They come to realize it’s OK to work through their grief in the privacy of their own thinking/feeling, even while moving through the normal activities of their daily lives.

Ultimately they come to know that they can choose how they want to think and feel each day. This forms a resiliency to support them through many of life’s challenges. As they move forward in the face of this stressful situation, they discover an inner strength that can be called upon in any situation.


About the Author
About the Author: Barbara Ann is a volunteer member of the Friends of Caroline Hospice Child Bereavement Team in Beaufort, South Carolina. As a team member she works with school-aged children using bereavement curriculum based on the character “Mystie” to support children of all ages as they go through the grieving process. Barbara Ann holds a BS in Early Childhood Education. She is a certified elementary school teacher who has successfully taught children from pre-school through Junior High. She has written a variety of academic as well as spiritual curriculum which she authored, implemented, and taught in elementary schools, homes schools (grades 2-6) and Adult Institutes. Barbara Ann is a Focus Minister with Centers for Spiritual Living. She and her husband have created Kids’ Grief Relief ™, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing inspiring and effective child bereavement materials based on universal scientific and spiritual principles to individuals, organizations, and communities. She lives with her husband Pete, their two dogs Merlin and Mystie, and their two cats Halo and Henrietta, on a beautiful, tropical island which is a nature preserve on the coast of South Carolina. You may contact Barbara Ann through her website Kids Grief Relief.
I'm Grieving, Now What?