Grief is a difficult thing for anyone to come to terms with, especially for kids. They are still learning how to process their emotions and things going on in the world. Thankfully, there are ways you can help them handle grief and come to terms with it.
The first thing you can do for your child is, to be honest with them. It won’t take them long to figure out that there is something wrong. They won’t know what though and kids are likely to assume that they did something wrong. So it is important to be honest with them, though you don’t have to go into graphic detail, about what happened. Expect them to be calm when you tell them, it can take time to process what this all means.
Be Open With Them
Let them see you going through your grief, even let them see you cry. This will help them come to terms with their own feelings and help them understand that it is ok to cry if you’re sad. They don’t need to see all the gritty details of your grief, but letting them see you’re sad and letting them see you cry will do a lot for them.
Be Available For Them
Keep a line of communication open with them and let them know they can ask you anything. They might ask questions about death, the afterlife, or questions about how the one you mourn lived. Be ready to answer those questions. Once again, don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. If they come to you ask them what their favorite memory with the person was. And have a favorite memory of your own.
Memorialize Those Lost
One way you can help your children channel their grief so it doesn’t turn into anger is by memorializing the person who was lost. Plant a tree in their honor or create a memory book, just as an idea. Give your child something that will help them remember the one they love.
Give Lots of Hugs
Be ready to give them lots of hugs and don’t be afraid to go to them for hugs either. Sometimes what you need to feel better is being wrapped up in the arms of someone who loves you. Even when those little arms don’t quite reach all the way around.
Prepare Them for the Funeral
Lastly, you should be preparing your child for the upcoming funeral. Find out if it will be open casket or closed and let them know if it will be open. Tell them it is ok to cry and that it is also ok if they decide they need to leave. It will be a very overwhelming time for all of you. Have a plan ready just in case they do decide they need to leave, because there is a very real chance that this will happen.
When it comes to kids learning to handle grief you will be their best example of how to act. So don’t hide from them, be honest, answer questions, and be ready with a cuddle. It’s really all any of us can do.
LaToyia, The Motivated Mom