Losing a loved one is a tragic experience that is especially difficult for children. A child who loses a parent, sibling, close relative, or even a pet may experience profound grief that they do not fully comprehend. We all grieve in our own unique way, but children do not have the same coping mechanisms as adults and require additional support and encouragement to cope with grief.
It can be difficult to discuss death with a child, especially if you are also grieving, but it is critical, to be honest, and straightforward so that they understand exactly what happened. A simple explanation is beneficial for young children who may believe that a loved one died because they did something wrong, causing unnecessary guilt and anxiety. Older children may understand the inevitability of death, but they still require reassurance and support to help them manage their emotions.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day, observed on the third Thursday of November each year, serves as a reminder that grieving children frequently feel alone and misunderstood. Family and close friends should be advocates for children who have lost a loved one, and they should learn to recognise signs of stress so that they can offer a listening ear as well as extra love and attention.
When discussing death, avoid using euphemisms such as “passed away” or “went to sleep,” which most children will find difficult to understand. Furthermore, make every effort to answer all of their questions, regardless of how difficult they may be. Children can detect deception, so be truthful and demonstrate that you understand their fears and concerns.
Here are a few strategies for assisting children in coping with loss:
Let your child know that it is normal for them to express their grief by displaying sadness, anger, frustration, depression, and so on. Expressing strong emotions is a common way of coping with loss and dealing with unexpected life events. Validate your child’s feelings, and don’t be afraid to show them that you are also grieving. Be vulnerable and share your grief with them as best you can because bereaved children look to adults for emotional and spiritual guidance.
Attend the Funeral/Memorial Service
It is quite normal to bring children to a funeral, though this usually depends on the child’s age and overall maturity level. Participating in a funeral or memorial service allows children to say their final goodbyes to the deceased, and the opportunity to commune with others who are also grieving allows them to see that they are not alone in their sorrow.
Don’t skirt around the fact that someone has died, for example, by not saying their name or removing all of their personal belongings from the house. You may believe that doing so shields the child from grief, but your actions may indicate that you believe the deceased person is no longer important, despite the fact that their memory is still very much alive in the child’s mind.
Grief is a journey, not an endpoint. Children who are grieving should be encouraged to remember the deceased as often as possible by sharing special stories or memorable conversations. Many families hold memorial services to honour and remember their loved ones during the holidays or on significant anniversaries.
Celebrating the Life of a Loved One
Both adults and children can benefit from memorialising loved ones who have died. Organizing a special remembrance tribute can encourage a child to actively manage their grief. Here are 15 ideas to help you commemorate a loved one’s life.
We’re Here to Assist
Carlyon Family Funeral Directors near Truro, Cornwall. We are available to sit down with you and talk things through over a nice cup of tea. Alternatively, you can give us a call or contact us through our website, we are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.