This week at our house, we lost our beloved family dog, Duke. He has been in our family for the past 11 years and has been part of all we do around here. As most of you know when you have a family pet, they do become part of the family and in the family pictures, and part of memories they will remember in their childhood.
So what do you do when “death” hits your circumference of your family? Whether a family pet? A grandparent? A parent? Sibling? Or even a special family friend?
Here are some suggestions:
You need to listen. Something as simple as listening makes a world of a difference in anyone life, especially in a little ones or even teens life. Be sensitive to what they need to “get off their chest” and don’t be so fast to want to add all of your thoughts. Sometimes just “listening” is the biggest tool in helping them grieve.
You need to pray with them. There is something about a parent taking the time to pray with their child. Showing them to take their cares, worries, fears, & heartaches to the Lord is a great way to help them along this journey.
You need to share a personal story of something you have been through. Sharing a similar experience or even how you handle a loss of some kind will sometimes help them as they see that others have been through this as well. Connecting with some one will lighten the burden and helps them to know they aren’t the only one. They realize they will be okay in time.
You need to share memories. Sitting around maybe looking at old photographs or sharing funny stories will help lighten the mood and help spread a smile around. It also helps them release their feelings and emotions for that particular pet or person.
Let them take time to be a lone. Giving them space to be alone is sometimes appropriate. Each child will deal with the grieving process in many different ways. From crying, to not talking, to asking questions, etc. Give them sometime to sort things out. (Remember there is a time to intervene if you notice TOO much time a lone or really isolating themselves)
Give lots of hugs. We all know that hugs can heal a lot of wounds. It sometimes is just the perfect touch to a sensitive and painful time. A hug is something tender and so priceless at moments when words are just not enough.
Take a break and get away. Getting out of the house and trying to do something different will help keep their minds off of the painful situation. It could be something as simple as a trip to the store, a walk, a bike ride, or their favorite fast food restaurant. Getting fresh air and a different scenery helps you clear your mind and thoughts.
Remember each child is different and they will deal with things differently and in their own way. Don’t ever criticize if they cry or do something that YOU wouldn’t do. It’s a natural process that we all at sometime will have to go through and cope with. Some of course more serious than others. In our case this week, it was the “family dog” but to my kids it was all they know.
This is also a great time to teach them about bigger things and experience with death and losing someone or something very near and dear to your heart. All in all it something that draws you closer as a family and will be remembered by your kids most likely for the rest of their life.
How have you helped your children deal with grief?
Sadness? A loss?