The Grief Self-Exploration House

Grief Self-Exploration House

The Grief Self-Exploration House is a great means for helping kids to understand their grief and what’s really important. Remember, when you’re helping a child to grieve, your role is to walk alongside them and help to facilitate the process of them working through their own grief, not to do their work for them. We originally found this awesome idea at The Grief Center. Here is how it works:

  1. On a sheet of paper, have the child draw a picture of a house with the following specifications. Make sure they leave plenty of room in each section and object for writing or drawing. (You might want to use a large piece of paper.):
    • The house should have three stories and a roof.
    • The house should have a door on the first floor.
    • The roof of the house should include both a chimney and a flag.
  2. If you’d rather not draw the picture, we’ve created a pdf file with a template (with and without instructions) at this link.
  3. Have the child fill out each section of the house with words or drawings (depending on their age) as indicated below.
  4. If the child wants to talk about what they’re writing or drawing, engage in those conversations but try not to force them to talk about anything they don’t want to.


Underneath the first floor, write the word foundation and have the child list or draw the values that govern their lives. For younger children, you might need to explain that these are basic principles that influence all of their decisions and actions – things like be kind to people, love one another, etc.


On the side walls, have the child write, or draw pictures of, the people who support them. If the child draws pictures, feel free to talk about who the pictures represent and write those names in so the child will have them later.


On top of the roof, have the child write or draw pictures of things or people who protect them. These can be specific people in their lives or more general people like teacher, police, etc.


Have the child write or draw ways they “blow off steam” coming out of the chimney. This is a great opportunity to revisit any coping mechanism you might have been working on with the child.


On the front door of their house, have the child write or draw things they keep hidden from other people. These can be “secrets” or just things they don’t let other people see (like when they are sad). Don’t pressure the child to share anything they aren’t comfortable with, and if they would rather, they can complete this section on their own later.

First Floor

Have the child use the area of the first floor to write or draw things that the DESCRIBE their grief journey. This is a good opportunity to talk about the five stages of grief with the child.

Second Floor

Have the child use the area of the second floor to write or draw things that have HELPED THEM on their grief journey.

Third Floor

Have the child use the area of the second floor to write or draw things anything POSITIVE that has come from their grief journey.


Have the child write or draw things they want people to know about them on the flag. These things fly high over the house.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at