Help a Grieving Child Effectively Through the Process
When you help a grieving child through the process, it is usually harder on you than it is on them. Knowing the right things to say or do can feel awkward, uncomfortable, and seem like quite a challenge. The key is to be honest and open with them.
Allow them to ask questions, and answer them truthfully. Do not try to shelter them from the process. Don't refer to death as "going away" or "they went to sleep". This may cause them to be afraid when anyone "goes away" or to be afraid to go to sleep (thinking they may never wake up!)
Don’t hold back your own emotions. Let them know that feeling sad about the loss of a loved one is a natural process and allow them to cry or express their sadness. Watch to see how they express or symbolize their grief in art, games or stories. Allow them to explain the meaning of their drawings or stories. Watch for changes in their grades or lack of interest in things they enjoyed. These may be signs of anger or depression.
Often times we don’t give children "credit" for being able to understand what is happening. Trying to "protect" them from the pain by using innocent, well-intentioned lies never works!!! Hiding your emotions may make them feel that they need to hide theirs as well. What they learn now about the process may influence how they grieve when they are older. Let them talk to you about how they are feeling. They may help you more than you can imagine!
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