The truth of the matter is that you can’t protect children from every pain. However you can help them cope with the pain of loss.
Coping ability will depend on their age, how close they feel toward the deceased and how much support they receive after the death has occurred.
Here are some things you can do to help children heal from their grief.
Use Simple Words
Using simple language is important. Saying the deceased person “went to sleep” might be confusing. You can approach them by saying “I have some sad news…”.
The child’s reaction can be unpredictable. Younger children below five years often have no context for what has happened and how they should react. Explain the changes in routine that will occur as a result of the death.
Support The Child
The child may express concern about another loved one. Reassure them that they will always be loved and cared for.
Ask them to put their feelings into words.
If the child cries, listen and comfort him or her with a hug. Do not force children to attend a funeral if they do not want to. The experience at funerals is intense and may do the opposite of providing closure for them.
The child may experience heightened anxieties, worries, fears and trouble sleeping. Provide extra care and spend quality time together.
Reach out to the school the child attends and let them know about what he is dealing with at the moment.
Create Rituals For Remembrance
Do not avoid talking about the person who has died. Help the child slowly heal by sharing fond memories, celebrating their birthdays and paying visits to the grave occasionally.
Don’t Ignore Your Own Grief
Take out some time for yourself and let a relative take care of the child for you if necessary. Please do not transfer aggression as a result of grief.
Get Professional Help
Do this as soon as possible if the child shows signs of depression, anxiety, withdrawal from school, friends and other activities over a long period of time.