Children and Grief: Lesson One

It is important to understand that children grieve. Children may not grieve the same way as adults after the death of a loved one, after the death of a friend, or from being confronted by a violent situation. But children do grieve. 

Today, we live in neighborhoods, communities, societies, and cultures that have no similarity to the way people lived fifty or sixty years ago. Yes, life presented a myriad of challenges back then. But there was a sense of community, a sense of neighborness, and a sense of family in America’s tapestry that helped to heal some of the pain and the hurt that resulted from grief. 

It seems as if today’s problems, even the world’s problems, have multiplied exponentially in the past thirty years. People, even children, are exposed and overwhelmed by so much aggression and violence that can be seen on television, through social media, and even in their own neighborhood and community. 

When children are exposed to death and to violent situations, I believe that parents and caregivers need to have age-appropriate honest-talks with their children. Honest-talk is about keeping it real and not engaging in unrealistic, fantasy type conversations. (Please be mindful that children are very intelligent and very perceptive.)  When children are given a safe space and permission to talk about their feelings, parents and caretakers need to listen.

Grief is about feelings. And in order for children to heal from a loss in their life, they must know that it is okay to talk about their feelings. The expression of feelings can be uncomfortable to the listener, but the listener must listen.

Today’s culture is fast-paced. Almost everyone is in a rush, and it seems that everything must be done in a nanosecond. Sometimes, it seems as if people do not have time or will not make the time for the special people in their lives. But when grief interrupts our children’s lives, we must stop whatever we are doing, and we must give our children the attention, the love, and the care they so rightfully deserve so that they can feel safe and thrive.  

There will be several future lessons related to children and grief, and this is just an introduction.

3 thoughts on “Children and Grief: Lesson One”

  1. Yes children do grieve. They also grieve during a separation or perhaps a divorce. They begin to be rebellion in certain ways Act out at school, talk back to their parents or just stay in their room. I have a teen daughter therefore I look forward to be reading more of your blogs about Children Grieve Too. Thanks for starting this Blog.

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    1. Thank you so very much for your kind words. Absolutely, children do grieve during a parental separation or divorce because one parent is no longer part of the everyday household. Due to this significant loss within the family, particularly if the child is very close to the parent who is no longer part of the household, a child may act out, which only means that the child is crying out for help, and these pleas for help cannot be ignored. During a divorce or separation, it is very important that both parents have a loving, caring, and honest conversation with their child (or children) about why the parents are separating or divorcing, and both parents need to commit themselves by placing the child’s needs and welfare first. I believe that when there is honest-talk in loving and caring tones, the healing process begins. And whenever there is a loss in the family and when a child is grieving over that loss, it is most important that the child is encouraged to talk about his or her feelings as many times as he or she needs to. The parent (parents) or caretaker needs to listen to the child’s feelings. No feeling is minor. Every feeling is important. When a parent genuinely and lovingly listens to a child’s feelings, the parent is saying to the child: I love you and you matter the world to me.

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  2. Thank you so very much for your kind words. Absolutely, children do grieve during a parental separation or divorce because one parent is no longer part of the everyday household. Due to this significant loss within the family, particularly if the child is very close to the parent who is no longer part of the household, a child may act out, which only means that the child is crying out for help, and these pleas for help cannot be ignored. During a divorce or separation, it is very important that both parents have a loving, caring, and honest conversation with their child (or children) about why the parents are separating or divorcing, and both parents need to commit themselves by placing the child’s needs and welfare first. I believe that when there is honest-talk in loving and caring tones, the healing process begins. And whenever there is a loss in the family and when a child is grieving over that loss, it is most important that the child is encouraged to talk about his or her feelings as many times as he or she needs to. The parent (parents) or caretaker needs to listen to the child’s feelings. No feeling is minor. Every feeling is important. When a parent genuinely and lovingly listens to a child’s feelings, the parent is saying to the child: I love you and you matter the world to me.

    Like

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