Helping Your Child Through the Grieving Process
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. Experiencing grief firsthand is a painful and stressful process for adults. However, for children, it could be a scary and confusing time for them. Most children are aware of death, even if they don’t really understand it. As a parent, you won’t be able to shield your child from the pain, but you can help him or her cope with the grief. But before you guide your child through the grieving process, explore your own feelings about a loss you experienced as a child. Recalling the incident may help you understand and recognize your child’s feelings.
Encourage Your Child to Express Feelings
Since all children grieve differently, you should allow and encourage your child to express his or her feelings. Not only is it healthy for them but it will also help them get through the grieving process quicker. Your child may go from crying one minute to laughing and playing the next. That doesn’t mean your child is no longer sad or has finished grieving. It could just be a way for your child to suppress the pain.
Provide Age Appropriate Guidance
As children grow and develop, they see death and loss in different ways. You should tailor your help based on your child’s age and emotional development. Since younger children are not able to express their emotions through words, it might be helpful to draw pictures, look at photos or tell stories. Older school-aged kids understand that death is permanent, but they may still have numerous questions. There are many useful children’s books about loss and death. It might be a good idea to read the books together to start the conversation with your child.
Be Honest and Direct
When talking about death with your child, try to be honest and direct. Since kids take things literally, using euphemisms will not help. Telling a child that a loved one “went to sleep” could cause him or her to be afraid of bedtime. For families with religious beliefs, talking about the afterlife can be comforting to your child. Even if you are not religious, it is still soothing for your child to believe that a loved one will continue to live on in his or her heart.
Letting Your Child Attend the Funeral
The decision to allow your child to attend a funeral is your personal choice. Although funerals can provide closure, some children may not be ready for the experience. You should not make your child attend a funeral. However, if your child wants to go, be sure he or she is prepared for it. Let your child know what to expect. Explain to him or her that it is a sad occasion and there will be people crying.
It is common for children to experience the death of a grandparent. The occurrence may bring up questions and concerns like “could I lose my mommy or daddy too?” It is a good idea to tell your child that you are not going anywhere and will probably live a long time. When children lose a parent, it’s normal for them to worry about losing the other parent too. Reassure your child that he or she will always be loved and cared for.
Watch YouTube Video: Grief Through a Child’s Eyes. This video takes you inside a children’s bereavement camp. Children ages 6-17 attend an interactive camp that combines traditional camp activities with grief education and emotional support.
Stick to Regular Routines
Children usually find great comfort in a routine schedule. It’s important to keep your child’s life as consistent as possible. Although it is essential to grieve over the death of a loved one, it is also critical to let your child know that life still goes on.
Detecting Serious Problems
Children react to grief differently and getting through the grieving process varies from child to child. However, if your child seems abnormally sad or is not able to deal with the pain, he or she may have an adjustment disorder, a severe condition that children get after experiencing a painful incident. It may be a good idea to check in with your child’s pediatrician.
Keeping Memories Alive
Talk to your child often about the person. Remind your child how much the deceased person loved him or her. Over time, your child will begin to understand that the loved one lives on in his or her memory and heart.
Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. Losing someone you love is devastating. If your loved one passed away in an accident caused by a negligent party, call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. I am here for you in your time of difficulty with free, friendly legal advice.
I’m a proud member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You can see our Verdicts and Settlements.
For 36 years, I have represented many clients throughout Northern California, including Sacramento, with their wrongful death claims.
Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels
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