How do I help my child grieve the loss of a loved one?
There are several things you can do to help your child grieve the loss of a loved one. Perhaps the most important is to help them find ways to process the loss. Consider these ideas as you help your child grieve:
Initiate conversations about the lost loved one. Tell your child gently about the loved one that has died and what that means. Younger children don’t need as many details about the death as teens might. Ask questions to help your child talk about the loss. For example, “How does it make you feel that Grandpa died? What will you miss about Grandpa? What is one of your favorite things about Grandpa? Do you have questions about anything?” Look at pictures and discuss memories of the loved one together.
Ceremonies are often very helpful in overcoming grief. Teenagers may benefit from going to the funeral or memorial services. However, the emotional intensity of memorial services may be overwhelming and confusing to younger children. For younger children, you might create a symbolic “ceremony” of your own. For example, have them to draw a picture of the loved one, frame it and hang it in a special place in your home as a reminder. Or, have your child pick a special item from their room that reminds them of the loved one. Then, take them to the gravesite and leave the item there as a parting gift to the loved one.
Finally, don’t be afraid of sharing your own feelings of sadness and loss with your child. It’s okay for your child to see your tears. But save your most difficult moments for the adults in your life who can provide comfort and perspective.