There are many things we teach in our homeschool. Some come in a book. Some of the hardest lessons we have to teach don’t. The life moments are the hard ones to teach. They are the moments that don’t come with a manual. A few months ago I had to teach one of these hard lessons. I had to learn how to help my child handle grief.
The kids have always been very close to their great grandpa. He has always been so sweet with them. My husband’s father died at a young age so the kids never met them. Dada stepped up to be their grandpa and fill that roll in their lives. He always used to cook them breakfast. It didn’t matter if they just ate a full meal, he had to scramble up some eggs.
When Dada died I knew the kids would be said but I had no idea what was coming. It wasn’t just a loss. It rocked their whole world. For their whole lives Dada was an important part of their life, and then he was gone. We went through a lot in the months following that. Grief is kind of like a tidal wave. There is the initial damage but then there is the flooding, and the water damage, and the cleanup, and so on. It is the same way with grief. It isn’t just the initial hurt. It’s all the little things that follow it.
6 ways I help my Child Handle Grief
For us, these are some of the things we encountered. I hope by sharing I am able to help you to help your child when they have to face grief for a loss.
Expect an initial calm
Sometimes kids won’t completely understand what is going on. At first, it may seem like they are not impacted by what is going on. They may just not understand the finality of death. Give them time.
R is such a sweet spirited little girl. She really is but she became so angry in the weeks and months following the loss of Dada. Expect this behavior but don’t excuse it. Give your child alternative ways to process their grief.
Cry in front of them.
Most of the adults chose not to cry in front of the kids. While they thought they were sparing them from the difficulty, they were really showing them that there was no need for tears. R watched her dad, aunt, and uncle to see how to react. When they didn’t cry, she though she couldn’t either. For her, this meant that those feelings became anger instead. It won’t be easy for your child to see you cry, but it will be harder for them to try and process big emotions thinking they can’t cry.
Prepare them for the service
All services are handled differently. Will it be an open casket? Will there be a gun salute? Will they be expected to say something? Will it be long? These are important to walk through with your child. If your child has a sensory issue, make sure to pack ear plugs for a gun salute. If the service will be long, pack something for your child. If they are allowed to speak prepare them for this. If not, make sure they know those limitations as well. For R, saying something at the service meant a lot to her.
Sometimes there is nothing you can say
Grief hurts and your child will need to process through that. Sometimes you just have to hold them and let them cry until they are all cried out. There is no fixing it. Sometimes it just has to be what it is.
Give them ways to process grief
This may mean a photo collage, a special item that is a memory or having them journal about the loss. I am going to include a small printable pack for you of things you could use to help your child work through this process. Some of these will not apply to you. Print what you need.
Answer questions honestly
We are Christians and believe 100% that Dada is in Heaven because he chose to accept Jesus as savior. When asked about where he is now, we answered honestly. If you are not sure about the answer, it’s ok to ask someone you know who may know more. It’s ok to tell your child you will find out and get back to them. I had a few of these type of questions with R and we had to research the answer and get back to her. Whatever you believe, communicate openly with your child about it.
Print your Kid’s Grief Printable Pack now.
(Clip art purchased from Reseller Clip Art)
How have you helped your child handle grief? What surprised you most about the process?
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