Adults know how death is an inevitable part of life. This is why when someone’s loved one passes away, we extend help — emotional support and practical assistance alike — so they can better process their emotions. We also give memorial gifts for loss of father, for instance, to help preserve the memories that they shared with the deceased.
But how do you help a young child understand and deal with an irreversible loss — especially if that person who passed on is their parent? Here are eight tips.
Educate them early on. Consider preparing kids young and teaching them about the concept of death. For instance, to emphasize that it’s part of the natural process, you can use your houseplant as an analogy. Once it dies, it won’t be able to grow anymore no matter how much you water it or put it where there’s sunlight.
Be direct and sincere. Some kids view death as something temporary. So when you simply say that “Daddy’s gone,” they might take it as if their dad only went somewhere and will still be back. Be honest about breaking the news to them. You can also express sincerity better by giving memorial gifts for loss of father.
Know that children grieve differently. There are bereaved children who get lonelier than others. Some even get depressed (In this case, seeking professional help is strongly advised). Therefore, you need to assess how they’re taking the news and deal with them accordingly. You can even encourage them to ask questions so that they can have a better grasp of the situation.
Try to stick to routines. Especially in the first few days, children will find most comfort in routines. When do they wake up and eat breakfast? When do they have some playtime, take a bath, and go to bed? Following a routine will give them a sense of familiarity and help them not be too affected by their loss.
Offer them sympathy gifts. As stated, giving memorial gifts for loss of father or mother can help express your sympathy better. On the children’s end, these mementos can serve as tangible things that will remind them of how great their parents have been.
Let them express their emotions. If they feel like talking, lend a listening ear to them. If they want to write their feelings out, let them do so. Even doing some artwork can be effective in helping them express — and process — their emotions.
Be there for them. When kids lose a parent, make yourself available to physically be there for them. They need an adult to lean on whenever they feel like crying. They also need someone to look after them — to help them eat, bathe, and get through their day.
Take care of yourself. Whether you’re the partner of the parent who passed away or their relative or a close friend, one thing’s the same: You’re also affected by their passing. To be more effective in helping kids cope, you also have to know how to process your own grief. You also have to take care of yourself physically and mentally.