Recently, I lost my grandmother. She was the matriarch of our family--greatly loved and cherished. She was not ill, and despite being 88 years old, her passing came suddenly and unexpectedly. It sent shock waves through the family, including my two daughters--ages nine and ten. I was the grieving granddaughter with two grieving great-granddaughters who needed my help processing their grief.
I have found the following to be helpful:
1. Be compassionate, loving, and emotionally available. Talk with your child/children. Give hugs and kisses to support, comfort, and reassure.
2. Remember grief is a process for everyone--including children. It is a very individual and personal process not to be rushed or minimized.
3. Maintain a sense of normalcy as best you can. It reassures the child and cultivates a sense of security and stability.
4. Children process grief differently than adults. One moment they may be playing or watching TV; seemingly okay, and the next moment they may come to you in tears. Be attentive and response to where they are in the moment.
5. Children also process grief in a sensory way--sounds, smells, etc. trigger memories and often an emotional response. When my father-in-law passed away several years ago my daughters were two and three years old. They remembered Pop-Pop's scent, and were upset when they could no longer "smell" him when we visited my mother-in-law.
6. Leave the lines of communication open to talk about the deceased loved one. Recalling funny stories, looking at pictures, sharing fond memories--all are a part of the healing process.
7. Take care of you! Be sure to eat and get ample rest.
8. Be patient and understanding of the young one's needs. Create an environment where the child feels comfortable discussing his feelings over and over again.
9. If bedtime is challenging, consider playing soothing worship music at night. Worship music creates an atmosphere of tranquility and promotes a restful night sleep. Playing an audio Bible of the Psalms may also be helpful. (YouTube has several versions.)
10. Rely upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance in helping the child navigate through grief. Trust God's word.
Pray together...Journey together...Heal together.
Scriptures of Comfort:
"God blesses those who mourn,for they will be comforted."--Matthew 5:4(NLT)
"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory."--Isaiah 61:3(NLT)
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."--Psalm 30:5(NLT)
For more information on processing grief, please read the article, "Grief and the Holidays" by clicking the link: