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Aug 30

Helping Children Navigate the Waters of Grief

Posted by Conway Funerals

Grief is an intricate emotion, one that is inherently universal yet individually unique. For a child, experiencing the loss of a loved one can seem like navigating a labyrinth with no clear exit. Conway Funeral Home believes in the importance of understanding and supporting the grieving process of children.

The Different Shades of Childhood Grief

Every age bracket within childhood interprets the concept of death distinctively. For instance, toddlers might consider it a temporary situation, like a long nap. Primary school children begin to recognise death’s permanence, but they may harbour beliefs that they can reverse or negotiate it. By adolescence, the comprehension shifts closer to adult perspectives, but teenagers may grapple with deeper philosophical and existential questions about life and death.

Strategies to Support Grieving Children

Open Dialogues: Establish an environment where children feel safe sharing their emotions. Younger children might find solace in expressing their feelings through stories or drawings.

Consistent Routines: In the chaos that can ensue post a loved one’s passing, maintaining daily routines offers children a semblance of normalcy and security.

Memorial Activities: Engage them in activities to remember their loved ones – perhaps lighting a candle or creating a memory box.

Navigating the tumultuous waters of grief is challenging for adults and can be even more so for children, who might not fully comprehend the permanence of death or have the emotional tools to process their feelings. Fortunately, literature has always served as a gentle bridge to understanding complex emotions. Numerous books tailored for children offer a profound yet delicate exploration of loss, helping them grapple with and understand their feelings.

“The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst is a heartfelt story that illuminates the idea that those we love are always connected to us by an invisible string, even if they’re no longer physically present. This simple concept provides comfort and a tangible way for children to visualise the enduring bond they share with their lost loved one.

“The Goodbye Book” by Todd Parr tackles the theme of loss through the eyes of a fish who has lost its companion. Using vibrant colours and straightforward language, this book underscores the myriad of emotions — from sadness and anger to confusion and loneliness — that accompany grief. The narrative emphasises that while every individual’s grieving process is unique, it’s okay to seek help and share one’s feelings.

Another touching piece is “Ida, Always” by Caron Levis. This tale, inspired by a true story from New York City’s Central Park Zoo, follows two polar bears, Gus and Ida. When Ida becomes seriously ill, the story gracefully broaches topics like illness, loss, and the idea of enduring memories.

Each of these books, in their unique way, offers children a compassionate lens through which they can begin to understand and cope with their grief. By using relatable characters and gentle narratives, they create a safe space for children to recognize, explore, and express their feelings, helping them heal one page at a time.