sassysage's Blog

Sage’s Rage: How To Help A Child With Grief

Posted on: December 17, 2012

  • In: Uncategorized
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i, like most of the world, am in shock over the tragedy at sandy hook elementary in newtown, ct.  how could anyone kill innocent children at school?  many people are calling for solutions before we even have answers to what happened.  i have my own thoughts but i feel like all of that must be placed on hold to support the families,  pay honor to the lives that were lost and praise those that courageously came to the rescue.  

my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  this past year, i led a study funded by new york life foundation focused on child experiences with the death of a family member and their treatment/service needs.  i want to use the blog this week to share some of the information we learned and provide resources for those who may need it.  

today’s blog is focused on child grief and how to help a child dealing with the death of a loved one

"Good Grief" Camp Counsels Children Of Fallen Military Personnel

1- the most important thing is to talk about it. don’t sweep the death under the rug and try to hide the fact that the family member or loved one died. don’t make it seem like you are not upset and are not grieving too.  it’s important to explain to the child that death does happen and it happened to their loved one. if the child is old enough to understand the finality of death, lean on your faith to help explain what you believe may happen with the loved one now that they have died.

2- allow the child to go through their emotional process. children should have the freedom to cry, be quiet and ask questions.  be aware that it is normal for the child to experience some forms of acting out or anxiety.  some may wet the bed, be afraid to be left alone, regress to behaviors that they used to do when younger (e.g.- suck thumbs, carry a blanket etc.).  it is okay if these things happen initially. however, keep an eye out if they continue several months later.  if the behavior begins to turn for the worse (violent outbursts, refusal to go to school, bullying, depression), it’s important to get help from a trained professional (e.g., school counselor, support group, psychologist, clergy).

3- establish a memorial event. plan an event or activity that you as a family can do to remember the life of the loved one.  this can be the death anniversary, the person’s birthday or another day that has special significance.   during this time, your child can have an opportunity to remember their loved one in a positive way with support and encouragement. making it an annual event is an even better way to pay tribute.

the following are very good resources for helping children deal with grief:

Free Seasame Street DVD Resource Kit- ‘When Families Grieve’

http://www.promoxml.com/exchange_product.asp?SiteID=AW-NYLGRIEVE&pf_id=92192&SingleSearchResult=1

List of bereavement camps, support groups & programs for children experiencing death of a loved one

http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/tlc/griefresources#_2

Teen Grief Resource

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/emotions/someone_died.html

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