As adults we can very firmly attest that grief is hard enough for us to understand or heal from. Can you imagine what it is like for a child or teenager to move through those difficult stages? The challenge that children face whenever they are going through grief is that depending on their age, they do not understand the permanency of death. A second challenge that children face is that they don’t have a firm grasp or understanding of their emotions. This leaves us, as adults and as parents, how do we help our children through this difficult process?
1. If your kids cry, let them cry. Our feelings are meant to be felt! This includes feelings of hurt, anger, and sadness. Our children must be allowed to feel their emotions even if they are not pleasant.
2. Don’t be afraid to have a tough, feelings talk. As a parent, you are the one that your children want to talk to whenever they feel difficult feelings. You are the one that they want to know is going to be there for them through the tough times. Don’t be afraid to just sit and listen to your children talk about their raw feelings about the loss, and don’t be afraid to tell them that it’s okay to feel pain.
3. Don’t ever underestimate the power of touch. Some children need a hug in order to feel safe and secure from unsure world around them. That’s where you, mom and dad, come in. A hug from you can help your child feel the safety that they crave during times of grief. Sometimes the best thing that you can do for your child during times of grief is to hold them and let them cry if that is what they need.
4. Trust your child’s skills. We must be willing to trust our children to be able to say what it is that will help them heal. We also have to trust our kids to be their own problem solvers. This is especially true during times of pain. If your child is struggling with a painful situation, you can always ask these questions, “What do you need from me right now? How do you want to solve this problem?” You might be surprised what your children will tell you.
No matter what the circumstances may be, never underestimate your power as a parent in your child’s life. Times of pain are crucial for parents to be involved. At the end of the day, any child needs one very important thing: their parents.