We were struck by a recent story in the Huffington Post that reports nearly 5 percent of children under the age of 18 are currently grieving the death of a loved one in the United States. How many are receiving the grief support they need?
If you’re in a position to help a grieving child, we’d like to share a few helpful tips from Fredda Wasserman, the Clinical Director of Adult Programs and Education at ‘Our House’ Grief Support Center, one of the nation’s most respected centers for grief support.
Talk About The Person – Children want to talk about the person who passed away. One of their fears is they will forget their loved one. Encourage them to share their feelings. Keep the memory alive by mentioning the person who passed as part of everyday conversation.
Be A Role Model – Grieving children go through a wide range of emotions. Let them know you have the same feelings. If you cry, explain it’s because you miss the person who died but you’re strong enough to support them.
Maintain The Connection – Help children find ways to honor the person who passed away. Include children in rituals as it helps them hold on to their memories.
Tell The Truth – Talk with kids in age-appropriate, direct language to clear up any misconceptions. Tell the truth when possible. If you tell them the person died because they were “sick,” a child may worry anytime someone gets sick they could die. Help young children understand when someone passes it means their body stopped working.
Normalize The Experience – Children often feel like no one understands them. Help them connect with bereaved peers in a grief support group. Kids will understand as they share their feelings, that they are not alone.
Read the story here.