Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Making It Easier For Children To Cope With Loss

Losing a loved one is a massive upheaval in anyone’s life, but when it comes to a child losing someone, things get even more confusing. Helping a child cope with loss can be like teaching them to cope with divorce, in some ways. You need to help them understand concepts they might not have fully grasped, yet. They may have questions that will confuse or upset you and can have trouble when it comes to grief. This guide is here to help. It will give advice on how make children understand, cope with and express loss. It’s a time we want to protect them from harsh truths, but now we have to help them move past them.

Communicate the loss clearly to them
When talking to a child about the loss of a loved one, we have to be clear in our communication. Children have minds that take things very literally, so avoid using terms that can be misconstrued. Don’t give them ideas that they have ‘gone away’ as this leaves them open to the interpretation they might come back. Let them know that the person is no longer with us and we can no longer see or talk to them. If they have questions, answer them. Don’t encourage silence. Even if it’s a question you have answered before. Usually, they ask not because they don’t remember the answer, but because they need reassurance on the truth they have learned.

Give them a way to remember
Although they must understand that the loss is real, it’s important for a child to understand that the impact of the person will be with them forever. It’s important for everyone to have that assurance. Physical memorials can be a great help to children. The act of taking flowers to the grave is another way of helping children to accept what has happened.

Keep photos
Memories fade, but for children they can fade even faster. Children can grow distressed on realising they are forgetting what someone close to them looked like. It is not a sign that they don’t care but simply a biological process of their mind they have no control over. Work together with the child to create a collage or book of photos in memorial of that important person. The process will help with their grief and the result will help them to keep the happy memories with them vividly.


Help them express themselves
Death is a difficult concept for children and loss is doubly so. Expressing our own emotions can be very difficult and a lot of that can stem back to what we were taught as a child. Teach your child how to express themselves and open avenues of honest discussion. Art can be just as important to helping them express their feelings as talking can. Whatever it is they do, don’t discourage them from feeling that way. Showing understanding and support is more helpful than denial. There are lots of tools that you can use to help them show their feelings, too.

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