When you have a child and they are unfortunately going through the process of losing a loved one, whether it be a beloved family member or a close friend, you may find yourself at a loss when it comes to helping them cope with the situation. Dealing with loss, whether it is a prolonged process or it occurs swiftly and suddenly, is incredibly difficult -- particularly for children. Get to know some of the ways that you can help your child cope with the process of losing a loved one. Then, you can be sure you provide your child with the best support through this trying time.
Allow Your Child to Talk About the Situation
Oftentimes, talking about death and loss is difficult. Impending loss, such as that from a prolonged illness, can be quite challenging because many people want to avoid thinking about the inevitable outcome of the illness.
Talking about death in American culture can be quite awkward and uncomfortable. However, children have not yet been fully saturated in these aspects of American culture. They will want to talk openly about their loved one, their illness, and about death in general. It is important to allow your child to talk openly about the situation.
This is a way for your child to process the situation. Try to be as open and honest as possible with your child as they ask their questions. Do not cut them off or take offense to any of their questions or comments. This will help your child to know they can come to you with whatever is on their mind as they deal with the process of loss.
Consider Taking Your Child to Therapy
Grief is complicated, and the grieving process does not necessarily start the moment a person passes away. With long-term terminal illnesses, grief can begin at the moment a person finds out about the illness. Your child could be stricken with grief for months or longer before their loved one actually passes away.
As such, you may want to consider taking your child to therapy to help them deal with this grief. In children's therapy, your child will be able to develop coping strategies to help them deal with their emotions and thoughts about the situation. They can talk about their feelings with an impartial listener (the therapist) which may help your child to open up more than they would with you. Therapy can help through the entire grief process, both before and after a loss.
Try a Grief Group
Another option for your child, and for your entire family, is a grief group. Grief groups are guided by a counselor or a peer specialist that can help facilitate conversations and give the group a direction. The idea behind the group is to find comfort in shared experiences, and to learn how others are dealing and coping with loss. Learning from peers can give your child ideas of how to handle and express their emotions.
Now that you know some of the ways you can help your child cope with the process of losing a loved one, you can start providing them with the care and support they need as soon as possible.