Most adults who had a significant loss early in life remember that they didn’t really talk about it as a child.
Part of our mission is to help children grieve through a family-centered approach. Our hope is to be able to help model how to grieve as individuals but also as a family unit.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Maintain routines. Children cope best when they know what is coming, so routines are important for kids.
- Every family struggles with showing emotion in front of one another. Remember that children need to see adults cry, get angry, and be able to cope with those feelings, release them, and recover. Coping is key.
- Model how you cope and narrate it to your children. That way, a child can see you choose a healthy coping method and then can open up a conversation about “When you feel angry, what do you do?” If you are having a rough day and are feeling angry, it is okay to say: “I’m angry today because __________________ died so I am going to go for a run. That helps me feel better.”
- Create an open atmosphere — have pictures up, talk about the person, ask questions about the person, etc.
- Acknowledge, plan, and remember birthdays and death dates, as well as holidays such as Mother’s Day. Give children the choice in what they would like to do for those days.
- Have “check-ins” — create a time each month to do a family check-in where you can talk as a family about the person and how you are doing with them gone.
A Haven is an Exton-based nonprofit that offers various grief support groups and grief resources for families with children, teens, and young adults (ages 3-24) who have experienced the death of someone they know. All support groups are offered at no cost to families. A Haven utilizes a family-centered approach, acknowledging that empowering families to walk through grief together is an important piece in supporting a grieving child. Learn more.