Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Helping Children Grieve

Remembering Abigail ~  photo taken May 2012

It is a very hard thing to grieve...hard to sort out your own thoughts and feelings and let yourself cry, get angry, and pray...all in repeat mode!  But at least it's you grieving...and you know how you feel...there's no real mystery there!  

Harder still to talk to your children about death, especially the death of someone they were in close contact with that were dear to their hearts.  

My first miscarriage and Abigail's death happened before Eliana and Josiah were born, so they didn't live out those moments of grief.  The first time we told Eliana about Abigail and the first baby was when we went to Abigail's graveside on the anniversary of her death when Eliana was around 2...though I'm not sure how much she understood.  Since then, every year, there are more questions as we visit the graveside and now from Josiah as well.  

We explained to them what had happened with the babies and mostly, we  tried to give them an eternal perspective!  We always finish the conversation with the happy and awesome reality that they are in heaven with the Lord and we will one day meet them!  Of course, they are 5 and 3, so I'm not sure they really understand what death means.  Mostly, they understand that it's a separation or a goodbye-never-to-come-back-again kind of thing.  They get sad sometimes when Abigail's name comes up, especially Eliana since she's older, and they say how much they want to meet her and see her and go to heaven!   

With our current miscarriage, after we found out, my biggest hurdle was how to tell the kids!  They were excited about the baby in mommy's tummy...and now, the baby was no longer there!  We came home from the hospital and we immediately got bombarded with sweet concerns from Eliana about how my appointment went and how the baby was doing!  We had to tell them then...I couldn't keep it inside.  We approached the subject very simply and with very few details and just told them both that the baby is not in my tummy any more...it is with Jesus in heaven!  Eliana asked how the baby could be in my tummy at one moment and now in heaven, and I told her that she couldn't grow any longer in my tummy and she died and her spirit went to be with Jesus!  There were tears and hugs and a few more questions, but overall, it was a sweet moment!  

I am no expert on grief or how to deal with it or help others deal with it.  All I have are my experiences to draw from with my little guys...and they are more easily satisfied with simple answers than older kids!  I read a great article last month by Focus on the Family that I thought I'd pass on to you at the link below!  They also have some resources they recommend below for how to talk to children of all ages about death and how to help them through the grieving process. 

I would say one of the most important things is to keep the conversations going...to allow them to communicate their feelings...allow them to see you grieve...allow them to ask questions...talk about your loved ones and the memories that were created...give lots of hugs and kisses...and point them toward eternity and the beautiful reality for believers that we will one day reunite with those we love that went before us!  



How to Help Your Child Grieve (read the overview and the next two articles dealing with grief and children)

Books recommended by Focus on the Family:

Someone I Love Died

Helping Children Grieve: When Someone They Love Dies

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