Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts on children and dying

I was just searching the web and reading several blogs about grief, death and dying, etc. It is amazing to me how much is out there. Times have really changed so much in the last several years. It does my heart good to see so many sites.

It was also interesting to see several sites that had do's and don'ts about grief. I facilitated grief workshops for children and teens for 15 years for a local hospice and I learned so much from the attendees. Most of the rules I just read on-line make sense.

What I didn't see (it is probably there somewhere) is something that I always make sure to tell parents...children and teens do not grieve on the same timetable as adults.

In the case of either the loss of a parent, grandparent or sibling...and depending on the situation and how the parent/s are doing kids generally take their cues from the grown-ups. For instance, if dad died and mom is struggling to cope the child will wait out of fear mostly---the fear that if they put one more burden on mom she won't make it.Ao, the child is stuffing his or her emotions about dad's death and not getting the normal amount of attention from a struggling mom...double whammy.

Once mom starts doing better, then, the child starts to grieve. Oftentimes the mom doesn't connect the acting out, moodiness or grades slipping with the loss because it has been so long and she is feeling better. It takes even longer with teenagers. Be cognizant of your child's moods and behavior. And be patient...once they start to grieve you have to help them deal with their pain, their fear and their loss.

Kids grieve too.

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