Grief is a natural part of life. Unfortunately, it’s also something that especially hard to deal with for the first time. If you are the parent or caregiver of a child, you will eventually have to help them learn how to process grief. Below are four tips that can help you through the process.
Talk About It
One of the most important things you can do as an adult is to talk to your child about grief. This is the appropriate time to not only have discussions about the big questions but to acknowledge that the grieving period is a vital part of moving forward. Try to tailor the conversations to your child’s developmental level, but don’t be surprised if the questions asked are more complex than you might have anticipated.
You are your child’s primary role model. As such, you are the person to whom they will turn to understand what grief looks like. While the way you grieve may not be the same way that your child will grieve, you do need to show them that doing so is alright. Don’t be afraid to tell your child that you feel sad or that you have trouble moving on. Doing so will help your child understand his or her own feelings.
Provide a Safe Space
Your child needs room to grieve. While the world outside can be harsh, you can provide a neutral space where your child can explore his or her feelings. Let your home be the place where he or she can express those feelings and work through them. Simply giving your child the benefit of a room in which he or she can freely emote can help in ways that you might not expect.
Work with Professionals
Finally, you should be willing to work with professionals as necessary. Counselors specifically for children and teens exist and can help your children to better handle the situation in a safe and healthy way. As a parent, you should not only look into the possibility of counseling but also model your acceptance of its usefulness during the grieving process.
Ultimately, the best way to help your child with grief is to facilitate his or her healing process. Talking when you need to, demonstrate when you can, and provide a safe way for your child to process his or her feelings. Grief is a part of life and helping your child to deal with it in a healthy way will help later in life.
By Emma Sturgis
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. She recommends grief counseling for young adults struggling with loss. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2