Losing a loved one at any age is an earth-shattering experience. Loss is painful, no matter how you look at it. However, there’s something profoundly consuming about losing someone that you love when you’re a child.
As a child, you look up to your older family members as a source of comfort and reassurance. When a child loses a source of stability, the ground seems to be swept from under them.
As the remaining survivor and parent, it’s up to you to give them the tools that they need to continue forward. It may not be an easy road, but with the right tools and compassion, you can guide their hand to better times.
Here are some tips to help your child or children through their grief.
Explain The Facts Using Simple Language
Don’t bother trying to have a complicated conversation with your children about what happened. They may have trouble digesting a lengthy explanation. Try to stick to the facts in an honest and brief manner.
You can say something as simple as “Grandma’s lungs didn’t work anymore, and she left her body.” This doesn’t leave any room for confusion about what happened. They may have questions about details or request more specific facts. Stay calm and reassure them that it’s a part of life.
Talk About Feelings
It’s vital that you encourage your children to talk about how they’re feeling. Experts recommend daily check-ins about their emotions. Ask them how they’re feeling that day, and if there’s anything they’d like to talk about./
Tell them that it’s ok to feel sad for as long as they need. The important thing is to talk about it. Normalize intense emotions and don’t be afraid to show your own.
Make sure that your children know that it’s normal to feel angry one minute and confused the next. This is all part of the grief process.
Find a Way To Say Goodbye
Not all kids may be able to process a funeral. It’s up to you to decide if this is the way that they want to say goodbye, or if you should have a ceremony of your own.
Find a way to say goodbye that allows them to have closure. It may be lighting a candle and saying a few words at home or writing a letter to the person you’ve lost.
Provide Extra Reassurance and Comfort
Following the death of a loved one, many children start to worry about the same thing happening to other members of their family.
They may start to fixate on the thought of losing you or other people they love. Try to do your best to reassure them and tell them that you are ok and they’re ok.