Parenting children through the hard time following the death of a loved one isn’t easy, and there’s no one approach to help your children heal.
In the days, months, and years following your loved one’s death, your children will experience a range of emotions as they grieve. Here you will find a guide to help your children process these emotions in a healthy way.
Create Open Communication Between You and Your Children
Death is difficult to process for both children and adults, which is why we often struggle to talk about it openly. Although, starting these conversations with your children is a very important step in their path to healing.
Talking is a great way to work through complex emotions. Every child is different so you should expect each of your children to have different reactions to the loss of a loved one. They may not want to open up to you immediately and that’s okay.
The best thing you can do is to create an environment in which they know they can talk to you as soon as they feel ready. Here are some things you can do to help your children feel safe:
- Be honest: When talking about death with your children, avoid euphemisms and answer any questions your children have about the death honestly. You may think hiding small details will protect your children, but when they find out the truth, there is a chance you will lose their trust. Being honest with your children will help them be honest with you.
- Be open: Telling your children about how you’re feeling is a great way to start open dialogue about thoughts and feelings. Talking about your own feelings may help your children become aware of, and feel comfortable with theirs.
- Give comfort: No matter how your children react to the death of their loved one, letting them know that you’re there for them and you love them will comfort them greatly. Offer hugs and handholding so they can be comforted without feeling like they’re being forced to talk.
Organise Activities To Keep You Connected
Organising family time is a great way to keep your family connected through your individual experiences with grief. There are many activities you can do together as a family, from movie nights to a bonfire, we have compiled a list of our favourite connection activities along with instructions on how to run them, which you can find here.
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s understandable to want to dedicate all of your energy to supporting your children, but you also need to focus on yourself as you’re grieving too. Grief is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, and to best support yourself and your children you should practice self-care. You can practice self-care by:
- Making room for yourself: Allow yourself the space and time to grieve by taking time out and allowing others to take on some of your responsibilities.
- Preparing yourself for others’ reactions: People are often uncomfortable talking about death, so they may become distant or try to comfort you with cliches. These reactions can be hurtful but try to keep in mind that your friends and family are doing the best they can.
- Connecting with others: Social support is key to emotional well-being, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to connect with your social support system – they will be able to provide you with the understanding and care you need.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Although grief can feel isolating, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone – you are surrounded by a community you can lean on for support.
No matter where you and your child are in your grief journey, reaching out for help is always okay. If you need immediate help or wish to learn more about other grief organisations that can offer you support, we have created a list of other organisations that exist to support people’s mental well-being and grief. You can also join our grief community if you wish to connect with other families who understand what you are going through.
At Feel the Magic, we are dedicated to helping grieving kids heal. We have virtual and face-to-face camps designed by clinical psychologists and run by trained professionals to give kids and parents the tools they need to connect with their emotions and each other.
Our programs encourage healthy grieving and introduce families to a supportive community that understands. For more information or to register your interest in our camps, please contact us.