At some point in most of our lives, there will come a time when we lose someone we love. This could be a family member, friend or even a pet. And it will no doubt be a very hard and traumatic time for everyone.
People cope with grief in many different ways, and for children, it can be even harder as they may not really understand what’s going on. As a parent, if you’re grieving yourself it can be even more difficult to help your child through the process. There are no right or wrong ways to help a child cope with grief – we all do things in our own way. As much as you want to, it hard to protect your children through the pain of loss, but there are a few things you can try to help you all get through difficult times.
If you’re both grieving, try and encourage your child to talk about how they’re feeling and talk to them about your feelings too. You don’t always have to put on a brave face. Sometimes this could be seen by your child as how ‘you should act’, so it’s a good idea to be honest with each other about your emotions and how you are/aren’t coping. If you think your child might be hiding their feelings (maybe to protect you) explain they don’t need to do this, and further encourage them to share and you share back. Being open and honest is important.
Keep some normality
Losing someone close can often send families into chaos and confusion, and turn normal daily life upside down. As much as you can, try and keep your child’s routines as regular as they were, even though this may be difficult. Mealtimes, bedtimes and other daily structures can offer stability and security during hard times. While you may be tempted to keep your child off school or away from sports and other clubs, if they want to return, let them. This normality can often help them through their grieving journey.
Make a treasure box
Make or buy a box to keep things in to remember the person or pet you’ve lost. This could include photos, cards, a pet’s collar or any special items you have that once belonged to that person. Let your child look through the box any time they want to, or just keep it safe for when they’re older.
Talk about the person
Talking about a person or pet you’ve lost is a good way to remember them and to continue to get your child to open up about their feelings. Talk about the things they used to do, funny things they may have said or days out you spent together. Keeping their memory alive is a good way for everyone to cope with their loss.
Finding what works best for you and your child may take some time. It’s important to remember, to remind yourself and child, that things will eventually feel better.