Losing someone who has been a part of your life is never easy. For children, this is especially difficult because they’re still at a stage where they don’t know how to cope with the loss.
Hospice of the Calumet Area shares that apart from the help of bereavement programs, as parents, you should also help your children through the grieving process as you go through it yourself. If you think that it’s already difficult for you, imagine how your child feels.
How Different Ages Respond to Death
It’s normal for children to experience a range of emotions, including anger, anxiety, shock, and sadness, but how they express it depends on their age and mental development. With children, it’s normal for them to experience separation anxiety when a person dear to them dies. Toddlers may act out feelings through angry tantrums, but remember that these are manifestations of their frustration and confusion.
For school-aged children, they may encounter more problems, such as sleeping problems and difficulties concentrating in school. They may also complain about headaches and stomachaches.
Helping Children Cope
The first step to helping your child deal with the loss is by telling them the truth. Clinical psychologist, Robin Goodman says that “when you don’t tell the truth it makes feelings and information go underground, which is never good. Kids also get crazy ideas because they have to make up information to fill in the blanks.”
Make sure that you use simple language when you do break the news to them. Don’t use abstract statements that they may misconstrue, but instead, use clear, direct, and age-appropriate language to explain the situation.
Encourage your children to express how they feel by either words or actions. This way, you can explain why they are feeling that way. In return, you should also express your own emotions because it gives children validation that they’re not the only one who’s grieving.
When you follow and maintain a routine, it helps children feel normal and grounded. This assures them that even when they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, things will go on as they did before.
Children who deal with loss are no different from adults but they need a bit more guidance as they still don’t have a grasp of the idea of death. As a parent or guardian, it is up to you to provide them with the information and the comfort they need to get through the grieving process.