A Child's Perspective

The death of a loved one affects everyone in the family, including children. During this difficult time, children will confront many of the same emotional challenges as adults. Terminal illness and a death in the family may force family members to spend time away from their children.

While these absences are usually an essential duty of care for adults, they can often be seen as neglect in the eyes of a young child. Reassuring children at this stage will help to displace any sense of guilt or frustration that may be felt.

It is important that the child's sense of loss is recognised in the period following the death of a loved one. There is a tendency for adults to try and protect children from the pain but they, too, must be allowed to come to terms with their new circumstances.

The funeral provides an important opportunity for children to adjust to their loss and to say their own goodbyes. An explanation of the events that will take place should be offered so that children can be encouraged to share the funeral experience, accept the death and reconcile their grief with the rest of the family and friends.

Encouraging children to be open with their feelings is central to reconciling any symptoms of grief. Recognising that these symptoms may be related to your own will help you to give comfort and allay their fears.

Taking time to answer children's questions about death is an important stage in their grieving process. While many of these questions may appear simplistic or naïve, they are legitimate concerns for the child.

In order to help parents care for grieving children, Burstows has available a guide that has been written specifically to answer some of the questions that are frequently asked.

 
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