“Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.” —Unknown
In the second part of supporting kids through tough transitions series, I talked about divorce. This time, I will share tips that might be helpful in getting your child through the loss of someone they loved.
Anyone who has experienced grief and loss in their lifetime knows that it is an emotional, life-changing process. The waves of grief following a loss of a loved one are often unpredictable and overwhelming. As a parent supporting your child through loss, you might be wondering how you can make this process less complicated for him or her. While you can’t necessarily take the pain of grief away from your child, there are things you can do to help your child cope. Teaching your children how to best cope with the inevitable experience of death will lay a healthy emotional foundation for their future.
Below I share tips that can help your child through the loss of a loved one
Talk about grief in an age-appropriate way
Little kids (up until age 9 or so) may not fully understand the idea of death. Children ages 9 and up may understand the idea of death, but often will struggle with philosophical questions and concerns. No matter the age, talk about death in a gentle but honest way.
Give them time to ask questions. When they do, answer honestly
Often children will need time before they can express their thoughts or feelings about death. You may not have all the answers to the questions they have, and that’s okay. If your child asks you a question and you’re unsure of the answer, you can say something like “I don’t know the answer to that one. I was wondering that too”.
Create a tradition to remember those who have passed
Speak to your child about the places, activities, and things that your lost loved one enjoyed. Create a tradition for you and your kids to honor that person. Some ideas include: lunch/dinner at the loved one’s favorite restaurant, playing their favorite music, or going for a walk in their favorite park. Encourage your children to talk about how the tradition makes them feel and fond memories they have of your loved one. As time goes on, be sure to continue the tradition you have created. Continued traditions can minimize the effects of extended grief.
Join me in the next and final installment of this blog series, where I will discuss the process of kids changing schools.
Check out the whole Supporting Kids Through Tough Transitions Series:
Part 1: Supporting Kids Through Tough Transitions
Part 2: Divorce
Part 4: Changing Schools
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Lauren is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist who is passionate about creating a safe space for families, couples, and individuals. Lauren provides her clients with skills and tools to change dysfunctional patterns in their lives. Lauren specializes in treatment for anxiety, food allergies, divorce/remarriage, and grief and loss.