Thursday, September 13, 2018

Free Social Stories About Death and Funerals

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A collection of free social stories about death, grief, and loss. They cover topics such as the death of a family member, the death of an animal or pet, attending a funeral, and more.

The concept of death can be hard for many kids to understand, especially when they're really little. It's a heavy topic to discuss, but it's an important one. 

One way to talk to kids about death, illness, grief, and funerals is to use a social story. 

I know we have relied on them over the years and they have been so helpful for both of my boys. Social stories explained to them who died, where the funeral was being held, what was expected of them at the funeral, and so on. They were incredibly helpful.

So I thought I'd round up some free social stories about death and funerals in case (or rather for when) you need them as well. 

In addition to stories about death and funerals, you will find related social stories about the loss of a pet/animal and illnesses such as cancer. You'll also find information and tips for writing about these sensitive topics.

Free social stories about death, grief, loss, illness, and going to a funeral - includes printable and video social stories

Tips on Writing Social Stories on Death & Grief

Death can be a difficult concept for many kids to grasp. When describing death to your child, it is best to be concrete. Keep the language simple and direct. Avoid metaphors.

I have outlined how to write social stories in general, but writing about grief and loss may require extra sensitivity and consideration. Here is a great list of tips on how to write social stories related to illness or death from Car Autism Roadmap. 

The following video also has some great tips on writing social stories for grief and loss.

This collection of social stories about death was last updated on November 12, 2022. New stories were added, dead links were removed, and more details were provided to make sure you can find what you need quicker.

Free Printable Social Stories About Death, Illness, Grief, Loss, & Going to a Funeral

The social stories below are a great starting point for helping your child understand and cope with someone's death. Some require you to have a Teachers Pay Teachers account (which is free!) before you can download them.

Keep in mind that every situation is different and may need special tweaks to the story. For example, you may have to travel for the funeral or you might be participating in the funeral in some way (like speaking, saying the eulogy, etc.). Or maybe it's a pet who died, not an animal. Whatever the case may be, you might have to use ideas from the different stories below as inspiration for writing your own custom story (free social story templates here to help).

Please note that just because a social story is listed here does not mean I endorse its content. After all, many social stories tend to be poorly written and/or teach autistic masking. Besides, I haven't read all of these stories word for word myself. So please read through the stories carefully before using them with your child. Especially when the topic is as sensitive as death and grief.

1. Social Story for Dealing with the Death of a Grandparent from Megan Maguire on Teachers Pay Teachers - This story focuses on the death of a grandfather. Please note that it does mention heaven.

2. Editable Social Story About Death and Dying from The Gift of Gab on Teachers Pay Teachers - The story was originally written about the death of mother. However, the story is editable so you can change the name of the person who died. There's also places to insert pictures of the loved one.

3. Funeral Social Story for Autism from Evan Autism Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers - This story focuses on attending a funeral. In particular, one involving a casket. Picture flashcards are also provided.

4. Someone I Love Died Social Story from Autism Little Learners - This story does a good job of explaining death. It's available in both English and Turkish.

5. Bereavement Social Stories from Happy Learners - There are four different stories included here. The titles include bereavement, someone has died, understanding dying and death, and when someone dies. Please note that these are text only stories. No pictures are included.

6. Social Story for Understanding Death (Editable Versions Included) from Good Human Project on Teachers Pay Teachers - A single page story. It's available as a PDF as well as editable versions for Google (slides I presume?) and PowerPoint. 

7. Editable Social Story on Death from Ms Heathers Classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers - This story was originally written about the death of a home health aide. However, it is a Word document and editable so you can customize and personalize it.

8. My Grandma Died Social Story from All About SPED with Makenna on Teachers Pay Teachers - A single page social story about the death of a grandma. It uses pictures and icons to match many of the words. For some kids, that might be beneficial, but for others, that might be super distracting. I personally find these stories hard/annoying to read. It's like those Geronimo Stilton books...hate those. Anyway, three different versions are included so pick the one that's right for your family situation.

9. My Grandpa Died Social Story from All About SPED with Makenna on Teachers Pay Teachers - Same deal as the social story above. Instead of it being about grandma though, it's obviously about the death of a grandpa, as the title suggests.

10. Death of a Pet Social Story from Autism Little Learners - There are two social stories available here. Titles include: My Dog is Sick and My Cat is Sick.

11. Social Stories About Cancer from Autism Little Learners - A variety of social stories that explain cancer. There are 6 variations available here. One for grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, brother, and teacher. Not sure why there isn't one for sister, but you could always adapt the brother.

12. Attending a Wake Social Story from Resources for Adults with High Functioning Autism (please note that we do not support the use of functioning labels here) - Under the events category, you will see a story about attending a wake/funeral. It uses full color photos.

Video Social Story About Death

Below you will find a video social story that is specific to the death of a grandma. Like the stories above, some of the wording in this video might not be great. But you can always use this story as inspiration for writing your own and adapting it to the death of a different family member.

Talking to kids about death, illness, and grief is hard. But hopefully these free social stories about death, as well as the tips section, will help you get that conversation started.

Free social stories about death, grief, loss, illness, and going to a funeral - includes printable and video social stories