For a child, the loss of a beloved family member or even a beloved family pet can mean the start to the end of their naïve innocence that all things go on forever; as the guiding parent in their lives, it is your responsibility to help your child understand, cope, and move on from the loss in a healthy manner. By not doing so you are potentially opening your child up for a host of behavioral and emotional problems further on down the road.
What Do You Think
One of the most important things that you can ask your child when you are helping them to work through a loss is to ask them what their thoughts are on the topic. Whether they openly display it or not, most children are aware, on some level, of what it means to lose someone. By asking your child what he or she thinks about it you will be able to tailor your own words of comfort and wisdom to their already forming belief system.
Opening up the conversation by asking what your child thinks will also help to encourage your child to speak to you about any of their questions or the major fears that they may have. Keep your answers honest and encourage your child to ask more questions if they appear to be confused or further upset by your responses.
Don’t Bottle Things Up
Despite your drive to be the strong role model in your child’s life, you still have the need to grieve for the loss of someone who was close to you. Certainly you don’t want your children to have to fend for themselves because your grief has left you unable to leave your bed. What you do want is to have your children understand that it is okay to feel sad, you want them to understand that grieving for the loss of their loved one is a natural part of the process. If your child is allowed to grieve in a healthy manner, then he or she will be better equipped to move on and heal in a manner that is healthy.
Your child may not be old enough to fully comprehend the situation when there is a loss in the family; it is important that you make the effort to not bombard the child with information that they simply are not old enough to understand. Try to find the simplest and most effective answers to their questions in order to keep them age appropriate and on a level that won’t further confuse or upset the child.
Above all, when dealing with any situation of loss in a family, it is important that your whole family takes the time to comfort one another and ensure that every member of your family feels loved, comforted, and safe. Loss can be a very scary and very confusing topic for a child to deal with, your response as their parent will play a key role in the way in which they approach the healing and moving on process.