How can I support my youngster with the loss of a loved one?

Home / blog / How can I support my youngster with the loss of a loved one?

How can I support my youngster with the loss of a loved one?

The following tips may help you to support your child after the loss of a loved one. Some of these recommendations come from Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado.

  • Allow your child to be the teacher about their grief experiences: Give your child the opportunity to tell their story and be a good listener.
  • Grieving is a process, not an event: Allow adequate time for your child to grieve in the manner that works for him/her. Pressing your child to resume “normal” activities without the chance to deal with his/her emotional pain may prompt additional problems or negative reactions.
  • Let your child know that you really want to understand what he/she is feeling and what he/she needs: Sometimes children are upset but they cannot tell you what will be helpful. Giving them the time and encouragement to share their feelings with you may enable them to sort out their feelings.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about loss and death: Adults need to be less anxious about not knowing all the answers. Treat questions with respect and a willingness to help your child find his or her own answers.
  • Help all of your children, regardless of age, to understand loss and death: Give your child information at the level that he/she can understand. Allow your child to guide you as to the need for more information or clarification of the information presented. Loss and death are both part of the cycle of life that children need to understand.
  • Children will need long-lasting support: The more losses the child or adolescent suffers, the more difficult it will be to recover. This is especially true if they have lost a parent who was their major source of support. Try to develop multiple supports for children who suffer significant losses.
  • Keep in mind that grief work is hard: It is hard work for adults and hard for children as well.
  • Be aware of your own need to grieve: Focusing on the children in your care is important, but not at the expense of your emotional needs. Adults who have lost a loved one will be far more able to help children work through their grief if they get help themselves. For some families, it may be important to seek family grief counseling, as well as individual sources of support.
  • Don’t assume that every child in a certain age group understands death in the same way or with the same feelings: All children are different and their view of the world is unique and shaped by different experiences. (Developmental information is provided below.)
  • Don’t lie or tell half-truths to your child about the tragic event: Children are often bright and sensitive. They will see through false information and wonder why you do not trust them with the truth. Lies do not help the child through the healing process or help develop effective coping strategies for life’s future tragedies or losses.
  • Don’t assume that children always grieve in an orderly or predictable way: We all grieve in different ways and there is no one “correct” way for people to move through the grieving process.
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search