Losing a loved one is never easy, especially for kids. Kids have different ways of showing their grief and loneliness. How children deal with the death of a loved one depends on their age, their level of closeness with the deceased, and the support that they get.
We list below a few things’ parents can do to help a child who has lost a loved one:
Talk in simple and clear words when talking about death. In a caring approach, let your child know about the death of the loved one. Give the child some time to understand your words.
Offer comfort and a patient ear- every child reacts in a different manner when they come to know about the death of a loved one. Some cry, some ask questions while some kids do not react at all. That is all right. Do not let your child stay alone. Be with them at all times and answer their questions patiently.
Put emotions into words. Let the kids speak their hearts out and know what they feel even after a month of the loss. Let the child know about your feelings too. This makes them feel comfortable about their own feelings.
Prepare your child for what to expect. If the death of a loved one impacts your child’s life in a big way to bring major changes, head off any worries or fears by talking to them about what may happen. For example, “Aunt Rima will now pick you up from school, in place of grandma.”
Engage in a conversation pertaining to the best-prepaid funeral plans and rituals. Let the child participate in rituals like viewings, funerals, or memorial services. Inform your child beforehand what will happen. For example, “Many people who loved Grandma will be there. We will be a part of a choir, prayer service, and talk about Grandma’s life. You may see people crying and hugging one another. You may hear people comforting you by saying, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ or, ‘my condolences.’ This way, people offer condolences at a funeral. We shall thank them for coming to the best funeral services.
Offer comfort and reassurance to your child’s emotions. If your child looks sad, anxious, or upset in other ways, ask about feelings and listen. Tell your child that it takes time to feel better after the death of a loved one. Some kids may not be able to focus on studies that have a problem sleeping in the night. Support groups and counselling can help such kids.
Make your child feel optimistic. Offer comfort to your child but refrain from talking about sad things. After a few minutes of interaction, shift to an activity or topic that your child loves. Play, engage in creative activities, cook, or go out together.
Give your child time to heal from the loss. Engage in frequent conversations with your child to know what he is feeling. Healing does not mean ‘not remembering’ the loved one. It means remembering the person with love and cherish the good memories spent with them.