Thursday, November 21, 2019

Children's Grief Awareness Day: How to Help a Grieving Child

Here are ways to help support a grieving child in your life: 

1. Take them out for a fun activity to give them a break from the home. This works best if you are ALREADY close to the child, so they feel safe and trust you. Help the child know that having fun is ok, and all feelings are welcome!

2. Help them memorialize the one they love by doing a craft together: making a photo album, a stepping stone, or a pillow with significant symbols, words, etc.

3. Bring up their loved one, again and again, even when it seems as if everyone has gone back to normal. Share memories and photos you have of their loved one.

4. Give a meaningful gift such as a bracelet, necklace, or pocket token that can be an everyday reminder of the one they love. You can get it personalized with a name, photo, birthstone, or even handwriting.

5. Buy a book or journal. A Hug from Heaven (Mascot Books, Amazon, Barnes and NobleTarget online and Walmart online) is a love letter from the point of view of the person who died. There is space in the back for photos or journaling. The Invisible String is not a grief book, but it gently shows we are always connected!

6.  Provide resources to the child’s caregivers. Rather than asking, “Is Sophia in counseling?” which can seem overwhelming and even judgy, try: “I’ve asked around and found 3 grief counselors in your area. If you are interested, I’m happy to call and make an appointment for you, and if Sophia is comfortable with me, I’m happy to take her.” “I’ve researched grief camps and am happy to help register Sophia for you if you are interested. This is an open-ended offer, so I’m happy to follow-up with you later if you think that would be better, or never bring it up again.”

7.  Remember significant dates and reach out: birthdays, death days, and major (and minor) holidays: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween. If you are not in the nuclear family, ask if the child and family would like to be included in your family’s traditions. 

8. Meet physical needs such as back to school shopping, and taking the child to church, if the primary caregivers are having trouble doing it. Ask first.

9. Be a shining light. If you experienced early loss, show them by example there is hope for a great life ahead. 

10. Answer questions honestly, using age appropriate language. Ask if the child has any questions about the loved one’s death. 
💙No matter what you choose to do, you will help the child know he or she is important! 💙

I’m sure there are many other suggestions! Please add yours in the comments.

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1 comment:

brg65 said...

These are all great. I wanted to comment on #6 (offering therapy resources). Respect family's choices about pursuing therapy for themselves and their kids. Let's assume folks know their kids and what would work best for them. I'm a big believer in therapy, but not every kid feels comfortable talking to a stranger. And if a family is interested in therapy, don't assume groups are lesser than individual therapy. Kids HATE being different from their peers, and having a dramatic loss in their lives makes them different. Meeting other kids who've had similar losses can be SO comforting. Sometimes that's all they need for the moment. Especially if they are younger. Maybe when they are older, and more articulate and able to access their inner thoughts, they can take advantage of individual therapy.