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In This Episode:

  • It is important for children to have the opportunity to process through grief in a healthy way.
  • If you are old enough to love, you are old enough to grieve. 
  • Children are often the forgotten grievers.
  • Many bereaved children feel isolated in their grief.  They may feel alone.
  • Child Grief Awareness seeks to bring awareness that support can make a big difference in the lives of children.
  • The symbol for “Hold On to Hope” is a blue butterfly.
  • Expression can provide great healing opportunity.
  • Group therapy can provide a shared healing experience and address feelings of isolation.
  • Sometimes children are concerned that their other parent may die as an after effect of one parent’s death.
  • Sometimes children’s grief can look like “acting out”, lack of concentration, and regression.
  • Grief doesn’t have a time limit.  It can be different for everyone.
  • Children grieve developmentally.
  • There is not a reward for speed in terms of the grief process.
  • Time and repetition is helpful to help children grieve.
  • Before children graduate high school, 1 out of every child will have a parent die.
  • Being in peer groups to process their grief can be so healing.
  • Experiencing the death of a pet can help children learn about death as well as give them a greater awareness of the life cycle. 
  • Involving children in peer grief groups help to normalize the feelings, sometimes resulting in less intensity of the pain and greater healing.
  • Peer grief groups provide an ideal setting to provide education regarding grief: defining grief, learning about feelings, and normalizing the experience.
  • Sometimes children exhibit “magical thinking” and feel like the death of their loved one is in some way their fault.  They may have thoughts such as “If I would have…”, “I should have…”, “If I only had…”, and such.
  • Adults do not NEED to have the answers that children ask, but simply can help by listening and reflecting.  For example, if a child says, “Why did Uncle ____ commit suicide?”, a helpful comment from an adult may sound like “You feel curious about why he committed suicide.  I feel that way too.”.
  • Peer groups don’t always provide answers to children’s questions, but do give an opportunity to process and work through grief in a healthy way.
  • It is important to be OPEN and HONEST at a developmentally appropriate level with kids regarding death.  The stories that they make up when left uninformed can be so much scarier than the true ones.  Just remember to make the information that you provide “developmentally appropriate”.
  • Create an environment that kids feel safe and free to ask you questions about anything.
  • Children don’t always look sad during grief.  Children process through grief in their own, unique way.
  • HOPE – Hold on Pain Ends
  • It’s important to provide a place for HOPE and renewal.
  • Focus on good communication with children by “checking in” to see how they are doing.
  • By talking about death, we don’t “make it happen”.   By allowing children to talk about their thoughts and experiences help them to process through the pain a healthy way.  However, if a child expresses that they don’t want to talk about it, please respect their space and let them know that you available to listen if  they do want to talk about it later.
  • Feel free to search out other helpful adults that the child may want to talk to instead.  
  • Talk to your child, even if you don’t think that they understand what you are saying.
  • When your child is grieving, remember to take care of yourself.

Helpful Resources

National Alliance for Grieving Children http://www.nationalallianceforgrievingchildren.org/

Dougy Center www.dougy.org

Center for Loss www.griefloss.org

www.hospiceofstfrancis.com

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