When you have young children who have never experienced a loss before, you may not know what to do. After all, the last thing you want is for your children to know the pain of loss and grief, but you also know that you cannot keep the truth from your child when someone they love has passed on. Keep in mind a few simple steps you can take to help your child through this difficult time.
Be Truthful and Honest
When it comes to grief and loss, the last thing you want is to be disingenuous with your children. As you tell them that their loved one has passed on, they will likely have two reactions.
The first will be sadness. This means tears, crying, and the like. Do not shame your child's emotions by telling them not to cry or insisting that they calm down. Instead, console them, sit with them, and cry with them. Your honest emotions will help your child to know that expressing their emotions is okay.
The second reaction will be inquisitiveness. Your child will have questions about the circumstances of the loss of their loved one and what will happen next. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. Do not avoid the question simply because you are uncomfortable or it is a difficult subject. Your child has a need to understand what has happened, and as their parent you are responsible for providing this understanding.
Prepare Them For The Funeral
Funerals are a time to grieve and to try to find peace and closure. However, for a child who has never attended funeral services, the whole thing can be scary and confusing. As such, preparing them for the proceedings ahead of time will help to ease their discomfort.
Whether your loved one will be buried or has been cremated, explain this to your child. An open casket may frighten children, especially the very young. Before you get to the funeral home, tell them what they will see. You may even want to bring your child to tour the funeral home, like Christmans Funeral Home Inc, earlier in the day, so they can ask questions if they have them. Explain that they will be able to see their loved one one last time to say goodbye.
If, on the other hand, your loved one has been cremated, the explanation may be a little bit more complicated. Your child will not recognize the urn as their lost loved one and will need to be told that the urn contains the remains of your family member. Try not to use words like "burn" when you explain cremation to your child. Their imagination may run away with them causing them distress.
Take Them To A Grief Counselor
If your child seems to be struggling more than they should or cannot accept the loss of their loved one, you may want to take them to a grief counselor. These therapists will be able to effectively talk to your child about their loss in a non-biased way, allowing them to express their emotions in an open and accepting forum.
While you want to protect your child from all that is painful and difficult in life, the loss of a loved one is something you cannot avoid. Help them to deal with their loss and their questions or confusion and you and your child will be able to make it through this difficult time together.