It's hard enough to know how to help an adult greive, but helping children can be even more complicated. I admit that I wouldn't know what to do.
A friend I knew in high school had lost his father unexpectedly when he was only four years old. I wasn't there, so I can't be sure what happened, but from what he says, I get the idea that his two teenage brothers spent a lot of time helping their mother, and the mother did all she could to make ends meet. It wasn't that his family neglected him because they did not care, rather, they had to focus on essential things like making sure there was food on the table and the rent was paid.
His mother once told me, "He's lucky he was so young when it happened that he didn't get a chance to know his father very well. He probably doesn't even remember him, so it's easier for him."
I can say without a doubt that it was not easier for him. He spoke of his father often, and he once commented that he'd rather have an abusive father than no father at all. In moments when he let his guard down, he told me that the worst part about missing his dad was that he didn't really even know who he missed. He did his best to dress like his father did, and last I heard, he was in school to have the same career his father did.
I'm not an expert, but I believe he never got the opportunity to grieve for his father, and his grief has been inside him, unresolved, for his entire life. It's so important to be able to let a kid deal with death, or it can have consequences so much later. I hope he has become a well-adjusted adult. But what could his family have done? They certainly couldn't afford professional counseling for him, and they were forced to put his primary physical needs for food and shelter over his need to grieve. I just don't know what the family should have done -- or could have done -- to help him.
My daughter passed away Feb 9, 2007 and she has three children. Her two youngest were with her for three and half hours while she lay on floor no longer with us until her oldest who was 6 at the time came home from school and found them. My youngest daughter came home about 10 min. later (she lived across the hall at the time). They all tried so hard to do something for my daughter but it was to late. The kids are doing okay I suppose but you can see sadness in their eyes all the time. Her youngest who is 2 now is not talking yet and seems to be slow picking up things. I really think they should be in some sort of counseling but their father refuses to allow them to go. They have been through so many changes this past year and half that I try to keep things consistant for them. I get them every weekend faithfully but I know 2 days out of the week is not enough. Does anyone have any suggetions?
Wow. That sounds like such a tough situation for all of you. Please accept my condolences to your whole family for the loss of your daughter. Your grandkids have been through so much at such a young age.
Like I've said before, I'm certainly not an expert, but I think seeing the kids often and trying to keep things consistent for them sounds like a good idea. I wonder if there is a counselor at the older kids' schools? Some schools have a staff member who is there to help kids with any social or emotional issues. Even though they aren't all licensed therapists, somebody like that might still be able to point you or them in the right direction. Or perhaps the children's father will reconsider if a school counselor thinks the kids need counseling and talks to him about his children.
As for the 2-year-old, if you're the one who takes him or her to doctor's appointments, I bet the doctor would have some ideas. If the doctor thinks the child seems to be developing more slowly than normal, they might be able to let you know what you can do to help, or if the 2-year-old needs to see some kind of specialist or therapist.
I don't know if these suggestions are practical or possible, or if you've tried them already, but I wish you the best. I think you're a wonderful grandmother, and the kids are lucky to have you in their lives.
Yes I know your pain. I am so sorry for the loss of your son. We are changed forever. I look at everything different now. I had just spoke to my daughter that morning and she sounded just fine. We were suppose to have dinner that evening but it never happened. I have to say I have been through alot in my lifetime but losing my daughter, my firstborn was the worst. I still have nightmares and I constantly think about her. I will never be the same. My prayers are with you.
Patricia, It is good you are staying in their lives and trying to keep things consistent. How have you explained what happened to their mom? Researchers say that it is good to talk to them about it. Depending on their age you may want to avoid phrases like "she is sleeping" or "gone away" because they may be afraid to go to sleep or may feel rejected or abandoned if they think she left them. Also, it isn't good to avoid the topic because they may think that you are trying to erase her memory. Talking about it freely with them and encouraging questions can help with the grieving process. It can also help them learn to live with the memory and not be afraid. Jehovah's Witnesses comfort their children with the hope of a resurrection to a paradise earth where sickness and death will be gone forever(Revelation 21:4)
We have told them that God needed right now and she is an angel in heaven helping him. They don't really talk about it but every once in while one of them will bring her up. My oldest grandson has really shut down. One time me and him were in the car alone and he did make a comment that someone was in the backseat and when I asked him who he said my Mommy. That was shocking to me. My granddaughter loves to watch the home movies I have when my daughter was younger. I don't bring anything up unless they do. but I do make comments and I do have pictures all throughout my house. I hope I am doing the right thing.
Children often feel responsible for the death of a loved one. Because a child may at one time or another have felt angry at the person who died, the child may come to believe that angry thoughts or words caused the death. You might need to offer some comfort: ‘Your thoughts and words are not what make people sick, and they don’t make people die.’ A young child may need such reassurances repeatedly.
Crying in front of children is both normal and healthy. Besides, it is almost impossible to hide your feelings from children completely; they tend to be very discerning and can often sense that something is wrong. Being honest about your grief lets them know that it is normal to grieve and at times to show your feelings.
When death strikes a family, parents as well as other relatives and friends are often at a loss as to what to say or do to help children cope with what has happened. Yet, children need adults to help them deal with death. Consider some commonly asked questions about helping children understand death.
It is important to explain matters in simple terms. Keep it truthful too. Do not hesitate to use the real words, such as “dead” and “death.” For example, you might sit down with the child, take him in your arms, and say: “A very, very sad thing has happened. Daddy got very sick with a disease that not many people get [or whatever you know to be true], and he died. It isn’t anybody’s fault that he died. We’ll miss him very much because we loved him, and he loved us.” However, it may be helpful to explain that the child or his surviving parent is not likely to die simply because that one gets sick at times.
Encourage their questions. ‘What’s dead?’ they may ask. You might answer this way: “‘Dead’ means that the body stopped working and can’t do any of the things it used to—it can’t talk, see, or hear, and it can’t feel anything
How I do feel for you. I wanted to share with you some information I found useful on the subject of helping children cope with their grief. As a mother yourself, you know well not to underestimate the intelligence of children, regardless of age. Though your time with your grandkids is limited there is much you can do for them. Since the time of your daughter's passing, the children have probly overhead bits and pieces of conversation in connection with her death. Left to their own abilities to understand, information could have been distorted. Thus it is very important to tell children the facts according to their level of understanding. I will be glad to send you a copy of the article that helped me. It answers such questions as, 'Should I hide my grief from my child?' 'Should I talk to my child about the deceased loved one?' 'How can I help my child while he is mourning?' But remember comfort can always be drawn from putting trust in God's abilities to soon fulfill his promises. Revelation 21:3,4 assures us soon God will wipe away every tear and death will one day be no more for anyone to experience. What a beautiful hope we have from the One who misses your daughter as much as you!
Thank you so much for your response Kara. My situation is more compicated than I even realize sometimes. Anthing I can learn that would help my grandkids is very appreciated. I would love to read the article you are speaking of. When you can please send me a copy. Thank you again.
Thank you for putting me at ease with your response. I know what a sensitive subject this is. If you would like to use my personal email address to send me an address of a p o box or something I can mail it to you, that would be fine. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So glad I can help.