HELPING YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH LOSS
When a child is affected by loss, it is difficult to know exactly the best way to help them understand. Many people try to avoid the conversation as they feel this will protect the child from the sorrow, believing that they may not be able to cope. As adults struggle with their own grief, children can feel anxious, alone and confused. During this time, children need to be included, even if they are too young for explanations. They need to be surrounded by love. Grief comes in four stages according to experts - Fear, Anger, Guilt and Sadness - these stages affect children as well. Even though they may not vocalize their emotions. In this two part series, we will address some of the common ways that grief can be expressed in children.
Often for a child, the thought of death is too obscure, beyond their understanding. So, they may pretend it didn't happen and act as if it did not. Gently addressing the subject and being a ready ear to listen will help the child feel comfortable asking questions when he or she is ready.
Headaches, stomach pains and other various complaints can be related to the child's confused emotions. Many school aged children will find these ailments occur once they are at school, away from the comfort and company of home. Sometimes, the child will fear that they too will die, especially when the child is older and able to understand the concept of death.
As children are often mostly focused on their own needs, one reaction may be that they are angry with the loved one who is gone, as they may feel they have been left all alone. Sometimes another person or God can also be blamed for letting the person die. Again, listening and loving are the best remedies to help the child through understand his or her anger.
Our next blog will cover additional expressions of grief and how you can help your child through this difficult process of understanding death and loss.
Information for this blog was taken from My Careletter and an article reprinted with permission from the SIDS Foundation of Washington.