Talking to Children about Loss and Grief
DO – Go first. As the adult, you are the leader.
DO – Tell the truth about how you feel. Telling the truth about your own grief and about how you feel will establish a tone of trust and make your child feel safe in opening-up about his or her own feelings.
DO – Recognize that grief is emotional, not intellectual and that sad or scared feelings are normal. Avoid the trap of asking your child what is wrong, for he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”
DO – Listen with your heart, not your head. Allow all emotions to be expressed without judgment, criticism, or analysis.
DO – Remember that each child is unique and has a unique relationship to the loss.
DO – Be patient. Don’t force your child to talk. Give your child time. Make sure to plant healthy ideas about talking about feelings.
DON’T – Say “Don’t Feel Scared.” Fear is a common and normal response.
DON’T – Say “Don’t Feel Sad.” Sadness is a healthy and normal reaction. Sadness and fear, the two most common feelings attached to loss of any kind, are essential to being human.
DON’T – Ask your children how they are feeling. Like adults, fearful of being judged, they will automatically say, “I’m Fine,” even though they are not.
DON’T – Act strong for your children. They will interpret your “non-feeling” as something they are supposed to copy.
DON’T – Compare their lives or situations to others in the world. Comparison always minimizes feelings.
We Are Here With You,
Sharon and Erica
One More Thought:
You can not go back and change what has happened. We are so sorry. We wish this was our super-power. We want you to consider this: You want to know how we know this? Because that was exactly how we both felt. We did not know how to help our children when our first loss occurred and we made hundreds of mistakes. Thank you for allowing us to share
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TEDx: Sharon Brubaker
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Sharon (661)212-0720 Erica (818)974-1124