Helping Children Cope with Death

Understand the Importance of Missed Events If Dad had been teaching his son how to cast a line or how to pitch a tent, and then died, this may be the focus of much of the child’s concern. It may seem that he is more upset over fishing and camping than over the loss of his father. This is not the case, but it is the way young children are more able to express loss. The child needs sympathy and support for the feelings and not criticism or rejection because of the manner in which they are expressed. Protect Children from the Emotional Collapse of Parents or Caregivers While sharing as much of the family crisis as possible, protect the child from witnessing an emotional collapse on the part of one on whom he/she depends. Children can usually handle feelings of sorrow, loneliness and anger, but to witness an emotional collapse will bring on unnecessary anxiety and insecurity. Ask the child how he/she feels about your sadness. This will help them with their own feelings. Protecting children from the emotional collapse of an adult is important, yet sending children off to spend long periods of time with other relatives or friends

may be destructive. It is better not to spare children the reality of what is happening. Children need to learn that they can experience the death of a loved one without completely falling apart.

Ask a child how he/ she feels about your sadness.

However, they also need to feel secure in the knowledge that while they learn how to grieve, there will be a parent or caregiver there to care for them. If a parent or caregiver is not fully equipped to care for their child, it is appropriate for them to be cared for by

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