Helping Children Deal with the Loss of a Loved One

girl looking at balloons

When a dear friend or loved one passes away, it can be a devastating time for anyone. While adults are more able to take the time to grieve and begin coping with the loss, it is also important for children to grieve as well.

After a child experiences the loss of a loved one, it is crucial that the adults in his or her life are able to help him deal with it and begin to heal. This is important so that children can develop a solid sense of attachment, human value and love.

Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with helping a child deal with loss:

  1. Talk about it – Keeping secrets and speaking in hushed tones can only create the environment that there is something wrong or scary going on. Speak directly but compassionately with children about a loved one’s passing.
  2. Be honest within reason – Try to provide an honest explanation of what happened within the limits of the child’s understanding (age, maturity, emotional state)
  3. Answer questions – Children might ask many questions after the death of a loved one. Try to answer each one in a reassuring way.
  4. Tell them it is okay to cry – Adults often try to keep a brave face, but by letting a child know it is perfectly normal and healthy to cry about a loss, the healing process can begin.
  5. Create a sense of security – Children facing the passing of a loved one are likely to feel worried or fearful that other people they love will also die. Try to reassure them and create a feeling of security within the family unit.
  6. Talk about the person who has died – It is very common for children to want to look at photos of and talk about the person they have lost. Spend time remembering good memories and telling stories about the person.

One way to honor the life of a family member is with a celebration of life or memorial service. Depending on their ages and emotional state, children can sometimes take part in these types of events, such as helping to release balloons or sharing a poem or memory.

The Foundation for Grieving Children has some great resources on its website for parents and families helping children deal with grief. You can also purchase a bracelet with the words “I Remember” on it as a way to honor and memorialize a lost loved one.

It’s important to realize that each child is different and each loss must be dealt with in a way that honors both the person who has passed away and the family members/friends who are left behind.

Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel has a dedicated team of staff who are experienced in helping families during difficult times such as this. Whether you are seeking funeral arrangements or a facility for a celebration of life memorial, we are happy to speak with you and offer guidance and assistance.

To discuss your family’s unique needs, please contact us at 865-689-4481 or info@gentrygriffey.com.

[photo via  by jesse.millan (contact)]