Supporting Children Through Loss

Supporting Children Through Loss

Loss is difficult for all of us. When we lose someone that we love, it’s hard to understand, we feel a conflicting range of emotions, and it can be hard to just carry on with “normal” life. For children, it can be even harder which is why supporting children through loss as best you can is so important.

Touch wood and all of that, my two haven’t be touched by a bereavement yet. It is bound to happen at some point and as these things usually happen without notice we’ve had to talk between ourselves as parents about how we will handle such a situation.

Losing someone that you love is horrible, but at least as adults, we’re able to comprehend what has happened. For kids, the idea of someone never coming back can be hard to understand. Unfortunately, however, it’s an unavoidable thing. If you are lucky, your child’s first loss will happen when they are a little older and able to understand better, but there’s never going to be a good time. Here are some tips to help you help them at such a difficult time.

Supporting Children Through Loss: Use Simple Words

When talking about death, try not to overcomplicate things. You might have a lot of questions yourself, and you might spend time trying to understand what has happened, but your children don’t need these added burdens. Explain that someone has passed away and that you won’t be able to see them anymore. If you can, try to relate it to things that they do understand, perhaps something that they might have seen on TV, or the death of a family pet.

Talk About Your Own Feelings

Your child might never have experienced any emotions like these, or sadness on this level. They can find it confusing, and wonder if what they are feeling is right. Bottling up your own feelings, and hiding your sadness will only make things worse.

Don’t feel like you have to be strong for them. It’s actually more helpful to show them how you feel when supporting children through loss. Talk about how you grieve, and the things that you feel, rant if you need to. But also spend time remembering the person together. Talk about them, share stories and memories and make sure they know that this is ok. Death doesn’t have to mean that that person can’t still be a part of our lives. That’s how we are choosing to look at someone special passing on.

Talk About the Next Steps

Whether you want your child to attend the funeral is up to you. Your decision should be based on their age, how much they understand, and their own feelings about it. Either way, it’s a good idea to talk about the funeral, and what happens next. Tell them about headstones and funeral traditions. Explain what happens and what it means. Give them an idea of what different people believe, as well as your own beliefs, without forcing any upon them.

It’s also a good idea to talk about the wake (if this is something that your family is likely to do). Tell them that friends and family come together to share their memories and celebrate the life of the lost. Let them know that many people find this comforting, and it can be the start of feeling better. Tell them that it is ok to be happy and to laugh if they want to.

Answer Their Questions

Your child is bound to have a lot of questions. Be honest with them and answer what you can. If they ask something that you don’t know, or about something that you don’t believe, ask if they want to research together.

We’ve looked at supporting children through loss as a topic a fair bit and these are the important points that stand out to us too. Hopefully none of us will have to use any of these methods any time soon.

Overcoming Tragedy

I don’t regularly post about a charity, the reason being that there are so many good causes out there, how can you choose to “plug” one over another? This story however touched me on a personal level and as such I’d ask you to please read through if nothing else.

Claire Willis, of Snugbaby, is holding a charity raffle to raise money for SANDS, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity, in memory of Mia, a beautiful baby girl, who was sadly born asleep on 26th March 2011. Claire’s cousin had a completely normal pregnancy, until she and her husband were given the devastating news that their baby girl had died just a few days before her due date, and as yet have been given no reason for their loss.

Whilst at hospital they were informed of SANDS, a national charity established by bereaved parents in 1981. SANDS  rely completely on donations; there is no government funding. They have 3 core aims, to:
– Support anyone affected by the death of a baby
– To work in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families
– To promote research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

Mia’s parents are aiming to raise £10,000 to donate to SANDS, and Claire would really like to be able to do something to help them to achieve their target. The raffle is being held at Claire’s personal blog, and tickets are available to buy now, with the draw taking place on Friday 17th June.

If you are unable to buy tickets, please help to to spread the word (by tweeting, blogging, sharing on Facebook or telling your friends) so that together we can help to support SANDS, and those affected by the loss of a baby.

Back in 2005 we miscarried. It was an awful, heartbreaking experience that I will never forget. How anyone can go full term and be ready to welcome their child into the world and then find that it has gone horribly wrong, and still keep going is beyond me. The work that SANDS do is invaluable in these situations to many grieving parents. If you can support them, please do.

Nicki x