Contributed by David Garcia, of "Spirit Finder", followed by the editor's personal story.
Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one knows how difficult that loss can be. For children, it can be even more difficult. Grasping the concept of mortality is tough enough for them.There are plenty of ways, however, to guide a child through the pain of losing someone or something special. Quite often it can be just as therapeutic for the adults as it is the children.In addition, many adults find that with aging and infirm loved ones, they are faced with decisions and instances they’ve never encountered before, on top of handling the likely death of a parent or close relative. All of this can be quite a bit for the entire family to bear.In order to alleviate some of the stress children and families might endure, I’ve put together a list of resources that can benefit everyone.While not all of these resources pertain to children, it’s important to remember that children will feel the effects of death that echo through the family, and I think several of these resources can be a great help to parents and extended family. I hope you will find them useful.
Preparing for the Death of a Terminally-Ill Loved One: What to Expect, and How to Help the Entire Family Move Forward
Editor's personal story:
One cold winter morning as I brushed my teeth before school, (I was 7 or 8 at the time), I looked up at the mirror and saw Grampy standing behind me. (He was Grandma's father; my great grandfather.) I recognized him, immediately and turned around; he was wasn't there. I looked back into the mirror and he was gone. I only saw him for a second, but I knew what I saw and it was real.
For what ever reason, I didn't mention this to anyone for some years after. Maybe I thought no one would believe me.
A time later; weeks, months, years, I asked why we never went to see Grampy, anymore. The last time I saw him, my brother Casey was still an infant. Sean, my Irish twin, and I sat with him at the table. He had wind up Donald Duck and Goofy toys that we played with. They waddled across the table to our delight and he laugh merrily, with us. He had such nice eyes and a wonderful, joyous smile. I seem to recall pepper mint candies, wrapped in cellophane, that we gobbled up. Sean and I were 3 and 4 at the time.
That is when I learned Grampy had died. Whether anything more was said at the time, I don't recall. I do know that I was disappointed at not being told. It saddened me that I didn't have a chance to say goodbye or go to the funeral and so forth. I was disappointed.
We weren't told because Mom and Dad thought we were to young to understand or they didn't want us to be hurt, or something like that. While I kinda understand, their effort to shield us was misguided.
There is a moral to this story.
Parents, do not mis-underestimate what children are capable of understanding. If they are old enough to have a conversation (even though it be child-like) they are old enough to understand death. They too, are capable of forming bonds with family members and they too, have as much right to grieve as you do.
Death and grief are sad but natural parts of life. Children learn how to deal with these things by experiencing them and seeing how adults behave under such circumstances.
Don't shelter young children from grief; help them through it. It is a learning experience for both you and them.
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