Children often do not know how to make their needs known or to articulate loss, and do not have the resources or experiences to integrate loss into their worlds. In their minds they often fill in gaps with thoughts like: ‘It must somehow be my fault’. Unfortunately a child’s interpretation is so illogical and irrational that adults never even think of it as a possibility.”
Children may also lack the ability to verbalise their emotions. Since their lives are just beginning how can we expect them to understand life’s endings? Often the one person with whom they could most easily discuss their personal feelings is the one who has died, and sometimes the person who should be shepherding them through their loss is the surviving parent who is too often lost in their own grief. “
Children grieve differently to adults - Unlike adults they don’t stop and give you their full attention. They may be fiddling with something while you talk but don’t mistake this for not listening or caring.
People have a responsibility to talk to children about grief. The way in which they experience early loss will be replayed on many occasions in their lives. It may determine how safe the world feels, what their friendships are like, and how their romantic relationships play out.
Helping children keep the memory of their loved ones alive is one of the simplest ways to assist them in their grieving. There are a number of techniques that can be used to facilitate the grieving process in children, she says. These include the following:-
Select an area in the child’s bedroom that will be (the name of the loved one’s ) special place to “visit the child” when he/she feels lonely and sad. A small table against a wall and a little chair is all you need. Allow the child to select one or more favourite photographs of his/her loved one and display them on the table or wall. Place some item of clothing or an object the child associates with them on the chair. These items will still carry their loved one’s energy and makes it easier for them to extend his/her energy into the physical realm.
Buy an inexpensive telephone in a style and colour that is different from the telephones in the rest of the house. Place this in the child’s room in the sacred place. The phone is a very effective tool to help the child connect with their loved one. Tell the child this is their very special telephone just for talking to mommy/daddy. Tell them all they have to do is lift the phone and say: “Hello mommy/daddy, this is (their own name ) and I miss you and want to talk to you.” The child will hear, see and experience the loved one much more fully than adults who have shut down their natural connections to the higher vibrational energy realm, she maintains.
Encourage the child to write (to their loved one ) about things he/she has been doing at school or with the family. Letter writing is for the child’s benefit and it can help him/her to activate his energy connection to the loved one and gives him/her an easy way to express thoughts and feelings that the child may not feel comfortable telling someone else. Assure the child that their love one will not be angry or upset by anything they write in the letters and to say everything they are thinking and feeling – even if that was not the case when the loved one was in physical form.
Drawing or painting pictures
Children can make a special drawing or picture for their loved one. Many children will instinctively draw or paint their true feelings. The drawings and paintings will reflect any negative emotions the child had been feeling and allow them to release these. After the child has released any negative emotions through the pictures, encourage them to draw or paint the name of their loved one, as the child’s very special guardian angel.
Set a time set aside on a regular basis for a “family hour” - where children are encouraged to share ideas and experiences with each other and with the adults in the family. When the family has experienced a loved one’s passing, the family hour can be a very effective way to include them in the family unit. Children’s reactions to the death of a parent depends on how they were raised before the death occurred. If parents have no fear of death, if they have shared with them, for example, the death of a pet or a grandparent, and if they have been allowed to participate in the care of the dying parent at home and also to go the funeral, then they will have few problems accepting death
Mariel Forde Clarke (www.marielfordeclarke.com)
18th August 2017