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How to Help Children with Loss and Grief April 25, 2018

children grief supportLike adults, children will deal with the death of a loved one in a variety of ways. How they react may depend on factors like how often they saw the person who died, what their relationship was to them, and the age of the child. It will also depend on how those around them handle the death and the comfort and support they receive. Here are some ways you can help children through loss and grief.

  • Listen. Parents can sometimes be in such a hurry to help a child through the grieving process they may not give the child enough room or time to express themselves. Some children may prefer to remain quiet, others may ask questions, still, others may need a loving hug and be allowed to cry.

  • Be simple, loving, and direct. Drawing out a lengthy story to try to make the news of a death of a loved one may not be as helpful as being direct and using simple but loving language. Children will process the information in their own way. “Honey, I have to tell you something that may make you sad. Grandpa died last night.” Allow them a moment or two to absorb what was said.

  • Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. We often forget that as adults we have family and friends who will call us, visit us or send us notes of consolation and help us express our grief. Oftentimes, children are more isolated from this support. We may think we are somehow protecting from the pain. Encouraging communication and discussing feelings following a death can help a child through the experience much better than isolation.

  • Set expectations for the coming days. Have a discussion about the funeral, why people will be visiting, and why the atmosphere may be solemn or sad. Explain any changes in their routine in the coming days. You can at least remove some of the fear of the unknown by setting expectations.

  • Explain the reasons for funerals and allow the child to play a part. Discuss your family’s beliefs about deaths and funerals and why and how they can expect people to react. Address why there is a burial or cremation. Let them know to expect lots of hugs and tears. Ask them if they want to play a role. If they do, allow them to help pick out favorite pictures or perhaps recite a poem or story at the service.

  • Remember, the healing continues beyond the funeral. Like you, your child will miss the loved one long beyond the funeral. Allow them to talk about the deceased and share in their stories. Provide love and comfort. Let them know there may always be a sense of loss but that it will be easier as time goes by. Remind them how much the deceased cared about them and that you too, miss them. This is a journey you can take together.

At Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory, we’ve been helping generations of families in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky through their grief. We encourage you to explore our grief support resources and to learn more about Gus the Grief Therapy Dog. Gus is available to meet with families and attend funeral services at your request. To learn more, contact us at Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory.

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