sassysage's Blog

Sage’s Rage: What Parents Can Do When Their Child is Grieving

Posted on: December 18, 2012

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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.

parent grieving child 12-18-12

today’s blog is focused on what parents can do

to help their grieving child

1- make sure to be there for your child. this may sound obvious but many of the families i spoke with mentioned that parents were so overcome with their own grief that they weren’t able to be there for their children. some children even reported that they pretended to be okay because they didn’t want to put extra stress on an already overburdened parent.   it is understandable that parents would be dealing with their own emotions regarding the death.  however, if you recognize that you are overcome with grief, please get professional help from a counselor, clergy or psychologist. your family needs you to be there for them and in order to do that, you have to be well.

2- give equal attention to your children.   this is generally a rule of thumb for parenting overall. but it’s even more important after a serious life event, like the death of a loved one.   every child will be dealing with the grief in different ways. some may seem more adjusted than others but that doesn’t mean they don’t need attention and support.   regardless of whether your children are young or teens, make sure to spend individual time with them talking about the death and their feelings. this rule should still apply in situations where the death impacts only one child and not the other siblings.

3- take it easy. this is the time to let go of trying to juggle everything.   so many of the parents we spoke with mentioned that they were not prepared to deal with all the challenges of the death plus the normal demands of running a household.  there was just too much for them to do.  so it’s important to get support.   ask your family and friends to help with laundry, get someone to cook some meals and freeze them for you, have a close friend watch the kids while you get some ‘me’ time.   try to get extra sleep, eat right and exercise so you can handle the stress associated with the death and your child’s grief.  this time with your family is so precious it’s important not to waste it away on household chores and errands.

Below is a very helpful resource for parents to help them when their child is grieving:

New York Life Foundation brochure with tips, websites and programs for parents 

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