Grief is something you never want to expose your children to, but it is something that will eventually be unavoidable. Whether it's the loss of the family pet or a beloved relative, no matter who your kids are, they will encounter grief – and if it is their first time dealing with grief, they may struggle to cope and move forward. As their parent, you must assist them during this challenging time, so here are a few ways to make this possible.
One mistake many people make when it comes to helping others through grief is to force them to talk about it. However, with so many thoughts rushing through their brain, it can be difficult to put how they feel into words.
Likewise, they may not be ready to talk about it, which is why you should wait for them to come to you if they have anything to discuss. If they are young, they may want to know what happened, whereas older kids might want to vent and show their frustrations.
We all deal with grief differently, so even if your child seems to be acting unlike what you’d expect, you should still let them get on with it. They might be trying to distract themselves by studying more or playing video games, which is perfectly reasonable.
However, there will come the point where their actions may not be beneficial. It can be easy for people grieving to lash out or become self-destructive themselves. If you recognize these signs, make sure you talk to your child and allow them to come to terms with how they feel.
It’s no surprise to parents that kids can worry that significant issues in the world will affect them in some way or another. However, this isn’t always the case, so you will need to offer reassurance that they will be okay.
This is particularly true if a friend or relative passed away due to an illness. Your child might worry that they have it too and become distressed. By explaining to them the nuances behind death, they will be able to cope with it more comfortably.
Everyone deserves the chance to say goodbye, whether to a friend or relative. It will help provide closure and maybe help them finally come to terms with the situation.
If your child is old enough, they may want to be involved with the memorial service, such as choosing bronze grave marker headstones or giving a speech at the funeral. If this is something they want to do, you should allow it to happen, but make sure you are there to support them on the day if they have second thoughts and feel unable to follow through.
Grief can be challenging to overcome for various reasons, and grief affects everybody in different ways. Whether your child is six or sixteen, they will need support throughout their grieving period, so make sure you are there for them if they need you.
If your child is withdrawn or you are concerned about your child's wellbeing, please reach out to a professional support. Grief councellors, therapists and teachers can be a great place to start.