I read a good article about helping children grieve. The article talks about how we as parents tend to protect the innocence of our children from the realities of death by keeping them away from funerals, viewings and the dead. Although the desire to protect our children is understandable, the reality is that death is a part of life that that we cannot protect them from and if ignored, it only becomes more difficult, more frightening and more harmful. We need to realize that children also grieve. They are connected, they love and they feel, so when a death occurs, they will grieve. Depending on their age and developmental stage they will grieve differently than adults. So how can you help them?
- Tell the child about the death immediately. Stay close to them and give them physical affection. Don’t push them away.
- Realize that taking a break from grief is okay. Having fun or laughing is not a sign of disrespect to the person who died.
- Include children in the funeral, but don’t force them to go.
- Understand that one of the reasons that we don’t take children to visitations or funerals might be that we don’t want them to see us grieve; that we don’t want to appear weak to them. Let children see you grieve. Grief shared is good.
- Understand that questions are going to be asked. Understand too that if you don’t have the answers, that’s okay. Answer each question as honestly as you can.
- Be honest with the child about how much it will hurt…it’s okay to let them know that this is one of the worst things that could happen to them.
One of the reasons we have a dedicated children’s room here at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home is that we believe that children should be a part of life changing events. The children’s room is located across from the visitation room so that children can feel free to join their parents or take a break and play. And parents can also see and hear their children so that they know they are safe. We believe in kids!
Until next week,