My son’s grandmother passed away over the summer and even though it was his first experience with losing someone he loved, he handled it quite well. Of course, she was ill for quite some time so his father and I had several conversations with him to prepare him for her death, but that doesn’t mean it was easy for any of us.
There are a great deal of resources I’ve come across in helping families handle the emotional roller coaster that inevitably comes when dealing with grief. I recommend that parents read about the Five Stages of Grief, originally outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying.
What I like to remind parents of during this difficult time is that each family member is going to be at a different stage at different times. While some might be in the Denial period, others will be in the Anger stage and not as sensitive to those who can’t sympathize with how they’re feeling. Depending on the child’s age and personality, some will take longer to sort through their emotions and move on to the next stage than others.
Grief comes when we experience the loss of any kind so the above stages of grief also apply to those who lose a job or lose a spouse through a divorce. Regardless of what your loss has been, you’re not alone. Finding support and connecting with those who have been through similar experiences can help you heal and move forward in a healthy way.
As difficult as it is to deal with the loss of a loved one, it is very important to give children a comfortable forum or outlet to express their feelings. Many suggest having them use art or writing to express themselves, reading books to help or finding a support group and allowing them to come up with creative ways to remember their loved one that is unique to them.