Helping children deal with the death of a grandparent can be extremely challenging, especially when you’re grieving your own loss. Unfortunately, death is a natural part of life and you can’t protect children from the pain of loss. However, you can teach them coping skills and help make these difficult times easier. Here are four useful tips to help children deal with the loss of a grandparent or any loved one.
4 Tips To Help Children Deal With The Loss Of A Grandparent
1. Answer any questions honestly and openly
It is important that you are honest with your children and discuss death openly. Death is a common theme in books, TV shows, and cartoons, so most young children are aware of what death is, even if they don’t understand it fully. Keep in mind that you don’t know how children will react to death, so it’s best not to offer too much information to avoid overwhelming them. Make sure that you answer any questions your children have about death honestly and calmly. Barnardos advise that you should always avoid phrases like ‘grandma’s gone to sleep’ as this gives the impression that death is temporary and can make children afraid of going to sleep.
2. Encourage children to express their feelings
Children deal with death and grief differently and you should encourage your children to express whatever emotions they are feeling. Speak with your child and have an open conversation about how they are feeling. Some children struggle to describe their emotions in words, so encourage them to try other outlets like drawing or looking at family photos. Ensure that you tell your children that it is okay to cry and express their feelings and that this is all a normal part of the grieving process. Remember that children grieve differently to adults – they may be upset one minute and then happily playing the next, this again is completely normal.
3. Decide whether they should attend the funeral
Whether your child attends the funeral is a personal choice. For some children, this may provide closure, while the experience may be far too intense for others. According to Child Mind Institute, if your child wants to attend the funeral then make sure they understand what they will see. If you feel that your child will be unable to deal with the experience, then looking through photo albums, planting a tree, or releasing a lantern may be great alternative ways to say goodbye. You could also take children with you to look at gravestones for a loved one and ask them to help you choose the style and the engravings to include.
4. Help your child remember their loved one
Help your child remember their loved one by encouraging them to draw pictures, write stories, or discuss memories with the family. Make sure you don’t avoid mentioning the person who has died. Sharing happy memories creates positive feelings and will help children develop healthy coping mechanisms and deal with the loss of their loved ones better. It is important that you clearly demonstrate to your child that adults are there for them and able to support hem through their feelings of grief.
If you are still struggling to help your child/ren Chilling with Lucas has some other great pieces of advice to help children get over death,