While losing someone you love is never something that’s easy to bear, dealing with death as a child can often be even more confusing and scary than when you’re an adult. So if you have a child that’s recently had a loved one die, be it suddenly or after a long battle for their life, you might be unsure exactly what he or she is thinking or how to help them along the grieving process. To be of assistance in these uncharted waters, here are three tips for helping children grieve the loss of a loved one.
Remember That Everyone Grieves Differently
Just like with you and the other adults in your life, it’s important that you recognize that all children are going to grieve differently. In fact, according to Rachel Ehmke, a contributor to Child Mind Institute, children often grieve very differently than adults do due to their different levels of understanding and coping techniques. So before you try to create a plan for how to help your child through their grief, first take some time to see how he or she is handling things and what type or level of grief they’re experiencing at any given moment. By taking some time just to observe, you may have a better understanding of how to help or support your child.
Involve Your Children In The Rituals
Although you might be hesitant about how much you should share with your child about death in general, Dr. D’Arcy Lyness, a contributor to KidsHealth.org, shares that involving your child in the rituals surrounding death, like funerals, can be very helpful for children. During these times, your child will likely have a lot of questions about what’s happening and why. By taking the time to explain things to your child, you can help him or her better understand what happened to their loved one and how things will be different from here on out.
Know What To Expect Throughout This Process
As was mentioned above, all people and all children will grieve the loss of a loved one differently. However, there are some reactions or behaviors that are common among children when there’s been a death. According to Parents.com, your child might experience denial, fear, blame, unexplained physical pain, mood swings and behavior issues, hyperactivity, or general feelings of apathy. While mild cases of the above mentioned experiences are normal, if you’re afraid for your child or these problems have been going on for longer than you think is healthy, you may want to have your child see a doctor or find a therapist he or she can speak to about what’s been going on.
If your child has recently lost a loved one, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you be a support throughout the grieving process.