Assist Your Child Through the Grieving Process
It's inevitable that as parents we will eventually have to teach our children about death. Often times, this loss will come in the form of the death of a beloved pet. Sometimes it happens when we lose a beloved family member such as the child's grandparent. How do you ease the child grieving process?
Loss of a Grandparent Affects the Whole Family
Some children are fortunate enough to have a very close relationship with at least one of their grandparents. But unfortunately, the day will come when the child will deal with the death of this grandparent. So how do you, as their parent, help your child through this time when you are grieving yourself? After all, you have experienced a loss as well. This can be especially hard if you are dealing with a child who is still too young to understand what death means. A child might ask when her grandparent is coming back from wherever it is they went, which can be very hard for you to hear at this time.
As hard as it may be to comprehend, sometimes helping a child to understand death and then cope with their loss can actually help you through the grieving process as well. The first thing to do is to find a way to help your child understand what has happened. One suggestion is to find books aimed at kids that explain death and even the afterlife.
One book that has been written on this subject is, What is Heaven? by Maria Shriver. The book explains about death, the afterlife, and even what will happen during a funeral on a level that children will understand. This is also a good book to read a child when anticipating grief, such as when you know a family member is in bad health and won’t be getting better.
Once the child understands what has happened, the child grieving process will start. Remember that there are five stages of grief that a child and an adultgenerally go through: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some of us will experience all of these stages while others only a few, because no two people will grieve the same. That goes for children as well. Once a child grieving process starts it's important to let them know that it's all right to be sad and to miss their loved one. Another important thing is not to put on a brave front for the child. She needs to know that you are grieving as well. This provides her with a role model for the grieving process.
A way to help the child and yourself through her grief is to share family memories of the departed relative with the child. Tell her stories about your own childhood that maybe she didn’t know about. Show her old photographs of you with your deceased loved one. You can also show family home movies. Even though it might be sad to watch them at first, it might also bring you great comfort to relive those memories.
You can also have a child write a letter to the person she's lost, telling how much she misses them. This might be a good idea for you to do as well, because putting all your thoughts down on paper helps with the grieving process. Another idea is to create a family memorial or a special place in the house where you can put photos of the deceased. You could also plant a tree in honor of the loved one with the child's help.
Grieving the loss of someone you love can be a very difficult time, but if you have children, remember they are grieving too. They need to know that you are there for them, and allow them to be there for you too. Together, you can both begin the healing process.