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Signs of Grief in Children
Jan 31, 2020   09:36 AM
by Karen

When a loved one passes away, we all experience grief differently. Children in particular, process and display such emotions differently as compared to adults. Even if your child seems aloof, they may be trying to process their understanding of death in their own way.

How do children exhibit grief?

Younger children in particular may not understand the permanence of death, which is why they may not be able to express their grief like one would expect. If you are looking for tell-tale signs, here are a few –

  • Clinginess

A child who is grieving the death of a loved one may become extra clingy, especially with their parents and teachers. This child may ask for help to do things they once had no trouble doing on their own. Children are able to sense distress in their parents and guardians, which is why they may feel safe by becoming more attached to them.

  • Lack of concentration

A pre-school or school-age child may find it hard to focus on their academics or any of their normal activities. They may even showcase indecisiveness because their minds are not yet adjusted to the loss of a loved one.

  • Anxiety

Young children can become quite paranoid, especially once they realize that the deceased person will not be returning. These children will need constant reassurance that their loved ones will remain close to them.

  • Sleeping

The child may want to sleep with their parents more than often as they may be experiencing nightmares that come from their paranoid thoughts when they are awake.

  • Guilt

Sometimes children will feel like it was their actions or a simple ‘go away’ they said to a person that led them to their death. Children need to be told that they are not at all responsible for the incident, and constantly need to be reassured of the same.

Look out for other signs such as developmental regression, behavioral changes, and feelings of abandonment. Seek the help of a child specialist in order to guide your child to the path of recovery.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Understanding the Grieving Process in Children
Jan 21, 2020   04:35 PM
by Karen

Death can be challenging to grasp fully, even for adults. So one can only imagine what losing a loved one must be like for children. Whatever their experience may be, one thing to remember is that like everyone who has lost a loved one, kids will need support also.

To be able to provide them with the support they need during a difficult time, you must understand how children grieve.

Babies and toddlers 

If a parent or a caregiver has died, small babies and toddlers, while not being able to understand what is happening, definitely sense their absence. This can result in them often looking for the person who has passed, crying and throwing tantrums, or becoming quiet and less active. They may become clingy and express this through being irritable, crying, or wanting to be held. 

It is essential to accommodate babies with warmth and love during such times. Try to keep their day as normal as possible, and sometimes, providing comfort items such as special blankets or toys may help. 

Older children 

Children around the age of 4 to 12 years old often express their grief through behavioral changes, such as becoming more passive and quieter. They may act out and throw tantrums. Their eating and sleeping habits may change, and often, they may experience regression in their developmental progress. For instance, they may wet their beds, or they may start crawling again. 

It’s usually best to talk to kids openly and calmly about death so they may understand the reality of it. It is also crucial that you let them know they are safe and loved, and that you are there for them anytime. 

Teenagers

Teens who have lost a loved one deal with death in different ways. They understand the concept of death, and while some may handle it well, others may be profoundly affected, which is evident through changes in behavior. Usually, they seek support from close friends. They may try to hide their pain, which is why it is all the more important for them to receive support and attention.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Funerals – Should Children Attend Them?
Dec 02, 2019   09:25 AM
by Karen

A common question among family members is whether they should bring their children to a funeral. You might be struggling with this issue. The decision being made depends on the age and maturity of the child being considered. For example, you might not put young ones in a situation that can become a traumatic experience.

 

Why should children attend funerals?

Children should be allowed to attend a funeral or burial because these types of events are crucial family rituals which teach them about the concept of life and death. If the deceased is someone they know, it gives them the chance to say goodbye. 

At the same time, you should never try to force a child to attend a funeral . Always make it a point to give them the option and if they say no, try to delve deeper to find out the reasons as to why they don’t want to be a part of this event. If there are questions or fears, you should address them, helping them overcome these obstacles.

 

Preparation is key 

As the adult, you need to make sure your child knows what is going to happen at the funeral, especially when it is his or her first time. Talk about how the room is going to be set, what kind of behavior is expected, even the appearance of the deceased if there is going to be an open casket. 

Your child should know that certain individuals at the funeral are going to cry because they miss the person. Let your child know that it is okay to cry or not to cry at the funeral. At the same time, there will be some people who laugh or smile as they recall the memories shared with the deceased. 

Be sure to pay extra attention to your child during this type of event. You don’t want your child to feel like he or she is forgotten or you are neglecting his or her needs.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Common Questions Children Ask About Death And How To Answer Them
Sep 24, 2019   09:18 AM
by Karen

Death is something that even adults find difficult to process. It’s something that you can never prepare yourself for, no matter how many loved ones you have lost. If it’s so delicate and confusing even for adults, imagine how it must be for children.

It’s no wonder that children often have so many questions about death, and often, these are questions that are difficult to answer. To help you out, here are some of the most common questions that kids have about death and how to answer them.

 

Why do people die?

One of the most common questions is the why of it all. When a child asks you this, it is essential to be straightforward and factual without complicating things. Let them know that people die because of accidents, illnesses or because of old age. Make sure that they know their thoughts and actions have nothing to do with the person’s death.

 

Where do we go when we die?

The answer to this question depends on your cultural views. If you are someone who is religious or you want your children to grow up with a religious background, tell them your religion’s belief on death and the afterlife. If you are not particularly religious and you aren’t sure of the answer, there is no harm in being honest.

 

Will I die too?

It’s common for children to ask if they too will die. You must be honest with them, but remember to explain gently and in terms that kids will understand. Tell them that at some point, all of us will die and even though it can be difficult to understand, death is natural.

 

Will I see the person who died again?

The answer to this depends on your answer to the question about where we go after we die. For instance, if you are Christian, you can tell them that they will see them again when they go to heaven.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

How to Teach Funeral Etiquette to Children
Jul 18, 2019   09:05 AM
by Karen

Most parents are overprotective when it comes to bringing their children to terms with the idea of death. But that doesn’t mean that children should be left out of the last rites of a beloved family member and be expected to learn to handle their emotions on their own as they grow older. 

It is crucial that parents educate their children about the concept of death at an early age. Teaching them gradually about the physical and emotional aspects of death will enable them to handle their grief better, even as adults later in life. It also makes them feel involved and responsible.

When attending a funeral service, the child must know the etiquette that he or she is expected to follow. Teaching a child to be respectful at a funeral is very important, not just for that particular day but also for molding the child’s personality as an empathetic individual.

Talk to your child about what to expect at a funeral. If your child has never been to one, he or she may not know what exactly happens at a funeral service. It is essential that children know who will be in attendance and what events will be held during the service. Taking them to a funeral without any prior knowledge may be a little overwhelming for children.

Once they know what to expect, discuss what is expected of them at the funeral. Tell them how they're supposed to dress for it and how they're meant to behave. Tell them that they should not be loud while talking and shouldn't run around the place. Teach them to be respectful to the deceased and the family as well.

More importantly, set an example for your children by showing them how to behave appropriately since children learn better by following your lead rather than instructions.

Thanks for reading,

Karen

How Do You Explain Death to Children?
Jul 09, 2019   11:09 AM
by Karen

As humans, we tend to avoid talking about topics that make us upset, which is why talking to children about death is so difficult for adults. On top of this, we do not know all the answers when it comes to death which makes explaining the concept to kids so challenging. You want to tell your child what exactly happens after people die and whether he/she will ever see them again, but you do not know for sure.

Explaining death to children may be difficult, but you will certainly have to do it at some point. Especially if a loved one has died, children are more likely to have plenty of questions about death. Here are some tips to help you answer these questions about death:

  • Just tell them the truth directly

If you have lost a loved one, you will be grieving. Explain to your child what has happened instead of beating around the bush and making up stories. Telling the truth directly helps them understand why you are in pain as well.

  • Make sure that you use the words “dead” and/or “died”

It’s common for parents to use phrases like 'passed away', or 'went to sleep', or 'crossed over' while explaining death to kids. Sometimes this just confuses them even more. Besides, research shows that using realistic words like “dead” and “died” has been shown to help kids in the grieving process.

  • Be honest and don’t hesitate to admit what you don’t know

You won’t have the answers to all the questions that your child asks, and at such times, it’s okay to reveal the fact that you don’t know. Admitting that you don’t know something helps children understand that death is an elusive topic that is, often times, hard to process even for adults.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Is It Okay for children to Attend Funerals?
Apr 30, 2019   12:16 PM
by Karen

Today, parents want to shield their children and offer protection from the world. This might include boredom, losing, suffering the consequences of their own actions, and also rituals of life and death such as funerals. Many parents think that children should not be allowed to attend funerals as they believe it is simply too much for them to handle. As such, youngsters are often barred from funerals of their dear ones, even if they express their wish to be present.

It is true that funerals can indeed be confusing and harrowing for children, especially if it is not planned properly or the child is not given an explanation of what exactly is going on. However, it is also true that when done right, funerals can be an important experience for kids, helping them understand death as a concept and thus allowing them to mourn properly.

Here are a few things that adults must keep in mind when it comes to kids and funerals:

  • Explain carefully what a funeral is to the child

First, it’s important that the child knows the purpose of a funeral. Tell them what to expect, what rituals are involved, and how people may react. Once they understand funerals as a concept, it becomes easier for them to decide if they want to be a part of them.

  • Make the child decide for themselves

This is the most important part. Adults must allow kids to choose for themselves. Once you carefully explain to them everything they should expect, leave it up to the child to decide if they want to attend a funeral or not.

  • Funerals offer a chance to say goodbye

It’s important to realize that funerals can be therapeutic for people who have lost a loved one since they offer a physical, tangible point of farewell. This allows you to mourn in a healthy manner.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Offering Support to Children During Times of Grief
Aug 24, 2018   11:48 AM
by Karen

 

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.

 

  1. Talk to your child about death and explain things using simple words and terms. Approach the subject rationally but show your little one you care. If you are breaking the bad news to them, be direct but give them time to analyze what you just said.

 

  1. Different children react differently to the news of a loved one passing away. Some children cry while others are curious and ask questions. Stay by your child's side and watch how they react. Offer reassurance, hold them, and answer any questions they may have. If your child does not react at all, do not force them to say something. Let them be but stay by their side.

 

  1. In most cases, the death of a close family member means that there could be changes your child should expect, such as not being able to visit Grandma again. Explain the situation to him or her and tell them of the changes they will start noticing shortly.

 

  1. Speak to your child about last rites and funerals. Allow them to participate in memorial services. It is wise to inform them that a funeral will take place and explain what happens during one. Explain some details of cremation or burial if necessary.

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.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Creative Activities That Can Help Kids Deal With The Loss Of A Loved One
Apr 24, 2018   11:18 AM
by Karen

 

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.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen

How To Help A Child Cope With The Death Of A Loved One
Feb 15, 2018   10:03 AM
by Karen

 

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.

 

Thanks for reading,

Karen