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University of Twente and the Victim Support Fund developed a Mourning Meter in cooperation with children

Children going through mourning often hide their emotions, making it difficult to determine if they need help in their mourning process. For this reason, the Victim Support Fund decided to develop a special mourning meter for children in cooperation with several children and researchers from UT and elsewhere. This meter is available online at rouwbehandeling.nl  (previously for adults). 

This mourning meter helps children who have lost a loved one get an overview of their symptoms; from intense anger to sadness, feeling numb or emotionless, and/or other signs that can point to a disrupted mourning process. Using the mourning meter, children and their parents or caregivers can determine whether they would benefit from specialised help. This is important because the sooner children get appropriate help, the greater the chances that their futures will not be marked by victimhood.


7% of children under the age of 16 lose a parent. Even more children lose a brother, sister or other family member. This means that, on average, in every classroom in the Netherlands, there are two children who have lost one or both parents. 

Dr Lonneke Lenferink (University of Twente) and senior researcher at the Victim Support Fund in the field of mourning following a traumatic loss: “We all grieve in our own way, but children tend to keep their feelings to themselves. That does not mean they are any less sad. As a parent or guardian, it can be good to know how they are doing and whether they might benefit from professional help. Timely help following a loss can prevent issues at school, at home or in children’s social lives.” 


Children between the ages of 8 and 16 as well as adults who lost a loved one at a young age contributed to the development of the mourning meter. Like Maaike, for example. She lost her little brother in a traffic accident. 

“I think it is very important that this will lead to more attention for children who have lost a loved one. There is plenty of help for parents, about how they experience a loss and how they can continue living their lives. But I also had to go back to school and back to my life. Nobody ever asked me anything about it. I felt like I didn’t belong, and that was a bad feeling.” 


Just like the mourning meter for adults, which has been filled out more than 50,000 times since its launch in 2022, the mourning meter for children is an accessible and validated online self-test for psychological help in mourning. People want to know if what they are feeling or experiencing is normal. By completing the mourning meter, they can find out if they need help, and if so, in what form. This may vary from practical tips to specialised treatment. Together with a team of scientists and care providers, the Victim Support Fund has developed specialised help focused on the loss of a loved one through a traumatic event such as a traffic accident or a violent crime. The mourning meter is available here.

Universities involved: University of Twente, University of Utrecht and University of Groningen.

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
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