Children often experience death differently than adults do. No two children will respond the same to the loss of a loved one in the same way. It is important to be loving and supportive and give your child time to grieve in his/her own way. Children tend to go to their parents for answers, therefore we gathered 10 tips for parents to help their child cope with grief.
1. It is important to immediately correct misconceptions about death. For example, a child may believe that to some degree they were responsible for the death. Another child may believe that they can “wish” someone back to life. That is why it is important to be honest with them, but with concrete meaning. Use those words and avoid using terms like, “Passed on” or “Went home”.
2. Encourage your child to talk about the death and be a good listener.
3. Be patient and understanding with their questions and answer them honestly and simply.
4. It’s helpful to keep regular routines, but allow time for grief.
5. Reassure your child that death is not a form of punishment, but a part of life.
6. Encourage your child to use different ways to express their grief like drawing, reading, writing letters/poetry, playing music or singing. You may learn more of their emotions and expressions by doing this.
7. Prepare your child for the funeral service by telling them what to expect. Giving them an opportunity to place a picture or a note by the casket may be comforting. Even pick out flowers for that special someone they just lost.
8. Let your child know that you care and want to understand how they’re feeling and what they need. Ensure them that feelings are good to express and it feels better to let it out rather than keep it all in.
9. Doing things that will keep the memory of your loved one alive can also be very helpful. For example, looking at pictures or making a memory book of them. Tell stories about their life, or sing a favorite song of your loved one.
10. It may be more difficult on the anniversary of their death, birthdays and holidays. Starting a tradition on these days might be helpful, an example might be making a birthday cake on their b-day and talking about them while you do so.
Furthermore, for some families it may be important and very beneficial to seek family grief counseling, as well as individual sources of support. When a loved one dies, many things change. Be prepared to talk about it with your child, it might really help them cope with their grief and let you know as a parent what you can do to help them get through the difficult time.
*Keep in mind the child’s developmental level. Give the child information at a level he/she can understand.
For more information on the grieving process contact Parent Information Center on our FACEBOOK page!