Losing a loved one is never easy, especially for children. The transition from having someone in your life to suddenly not having them can be overwhelming, and it’s important that you take the time to help your child process their emotions. When a family experiences the death of a loved one or other significant life event, such as divorce or guardianship changes, children often struggle to process the transition in a healthy way. That’s why it is important for parents and guardians to provide support and understanding during this difficult time. Here are seven ways you can make this difficult transition easier for your kids.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
The most important thing to do is validate how your child is feeling. Let them know that it’s okay to express their emotions and talk about the person they lost. Ignoring the situation only makes it more difficult for them to cope with what has happened, so give them space to talk about it and share their feelings without judgment.
Respect Their Individual Grief Process
Everyone grieves in different ways, and there is no right or wrong way of dealing with grief. Remember that as adults, we often have more experience with death than our children do and our grief will look very different than theirs will. Encourage your child to express themselves through art or writing if they don’t feel comfortable talking about what they are going through, as these activities can often help provide an outlet for the emotions they are experiencing.
Consider Seeking Out a Professional
If you find that your child’s behavior drastically changes after a loss or if they are struggling more than expected, consider taking them to see a therapist who specializes in dealing with grief and loss in children. This might be helpful for both you and your child because having someone who can provide unbiased support during this difficult time can make all the difference when dealing with complex emotions like sadness, guilt, anger, or loneliness.
Keep Up Regular Routines and Hire an Attorney
It may seem counterintuitive at first but keeping up with daily routines can actually be very helpful during periods of grief and loss for children because it provides consistency which helps restore order during times of chaos and disorientation when everything else feels like it’s changing around them quickly. Having something normal to look forward to each day will also play an important role in helping your child heal faster when grieving a loved one’s passing away. Assuming guardianship arrangements may have changed with the passing of a loved one, it will likely be a good idea to look into hiring a guardianship attorney who can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise. This will make the transition smoother for the child and provide some peace of mind to you as the guardian.
Talk About Memories Together
Talking openly about the person who passed away can help bring closure by providing an opportunity for everyone involved to remember the good times spent together before their departure from this world took place. This is something that would be impossible without verbalizing these stories out loud between family members or friends of the deceased loved one. Even if it brings tears at first, allowing yourself (and everybody else) space for honoring memories associated with said individual should lead towards a positive outcome over time. Such conversations serve as powerful reminders of why your loved one was so special in the first place even if he/she isn’t physically present anymore.
Create a Memorial Service
Holding a small ceremony or gathering where everyone involved gets the chance to say a few words dedicated towards the deceased party can prove incredibly therapeutic for both adults and kids alike. This is due to its ability to offer a sense of closure while simultaneously affirming the importance such relationships had throughout their lifetime despite the eventual ending. Regardless of whether said event takes place privately within a home setting or publicly at a local park, the end result should prove to be an invaluable aid towards getting the entire group back on the path to healing again over the course of the coming months and years.
Be Patient With Yourself and Others
Grief is not something that just goes away overnight; it takes time, patience, understanding—and yes—love, to get through tough moments like these as a close unit. Allow yourself (and everyone else) the necessary space needed to come to terms with the situation before attempting to move forward again.
Grieving is never easy—especially for children who may not understand why someone in their life suddenly disappeared—but luckily there are some simple steps parents and guardians can take to ensure a smooth transition into the new chapter of the children’s lives without necessarily forgetting what came before. By paying attention to the needs of the kids while respecting individual grieving processes, maintaining a consistent routine, talking openly about memories, organizing memorial services honoring those that passed on, and being patient throughout the entire journey, navigating hard losses becomes much easier to deal with as a family.