Children are sensitive beings who express emotions differently compared to adults. When they lose a loved one, children show grief in different ways depending on their age, circumstances, and how close they were to the person who passed away.
If your child has lost a loved one, it is important for you to stay by their side and offer support in any way possible. Here are some ways to help a child cope during times of grief.
As days pass following the loved one’s death, encourage your child to talk about that person and make sure he or she remembers them. Do not shy away from discussing the person who passed away. While taking care of your little one also make sure that you have enough time and space to allow yourself to grieve.
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Death of a loved one, whether a parent, a partner, a child, sibling or friend, is never an easy experience for anyone. Especially for young children who may not yet completely comprehend the meaning of loss and grief, it may be a difficult and confusing experience. However, loss and grief are both parts of our life, and we must know how to cope effectively.
For children, it may be easier for them to understand and accept their loss through tangible ways. They need a physical way to say goodbye. So, here are some creative activities to help them cope with the loss of a loved one.
Create a memory box to preserve their memory
You can help the child make a special box which will hold small objects that remind them of their loved one. Objects inside the box can include pictures, necklaces, rings, perfume bottles, watch, or any other belonging. Give them the creative freedom to decorate the box however they want to.
Encourage them to share their experiences in the form of stories
You should encourage the child to express their feelings about the loss. Since this may be difficult since they are only kids, one way to make it easier for them is to allow them to express their experiences in a story form. To grieve in a healthy manner, they should be able to adjust to their life, and for this, they need to share their feelings.
Encourage them to share their experiences in the form of letters
Another way for the child to express his or her feelings is by writing a letter to someone, talking about the deceased – how much they miss them, what they miss the most about them, and even the things they wish they could say to them.
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Death is a grim subject for everyone, especially for young children. When they lose someone they are close to--a parent, a sibling or cousin, a grandparent or a friend--it can be an overwhelming experience for them. For some, they do not even fully grasp the meaning of death, and this makes it much harder to deal with the sudden absence.
Here are some useful tips to help any child cope with the loss of a loved one and ease their experience:
Be honest and clear, using simple words
Kids do not lack the intelligence to understand when something is wrong. If you are dishonest or withhold information, it will only result in them losing their trust in you, and becoming more confused. Use clear, simple words to communicate the news to them. The amount of details that should be shared with them depends on their personality and age.
Encourage them to express how they feel
Different kids react differently to the news of the death of a loved one. What matters is that they are able to express how they feel in such distressing times. Encourage them to ask questions, no matter how silly they may seem. Allow them to express their feelings. This will give you a better understanding of how well they are coping and what needs to be done to help them further.
Accept and validate their feelings
Once they share their feelings with you, you have to be accepting of those feelings. Tell them that you understand how they are feeling, and why they feel that way. This will make them feel like what they are experiencing is valid, and show them it is okay to grieve.
Share how you feel also
If a kid is hesitant to open up, share your own feelings to make them feel more comfortable. Tell them how you feel in a clear, constructive manner so that they, too, can do the same.
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