Listening to the tales of young grievers is one of the most effective ways adults may assist them. It is a healing experience for them to tell their tale. Following a death, many youngsters want to recount their tale. This can be done by writing down their stories or telling them out loud. Young people who do this often find that it is helpful to them.
After your child has died, you will feel many different feelings. These include sadness, grief, loneliness, and fear. It is important that you give yourself time to mourn his or her loss and process these feelings. Talking with other parents who have lost a child may help.
It is normal to feel angry or guilty about the role you believe you might have played in your child's death. If you are feeling guilty, talk with others who have lost a child to learn more about why this happens. Most mothers think they should have protected their children from death, but this is not possible. Sometimes babies or small children cannot be saved if they are suffering from illness or injury.
Sometimes mothers blame themselves for what has happened. If you are feeling this way, seek counseling from an experienced bereavement counselor so that you do not have to face these emotions alone.
Babies and toddlers Infants and toddlers are unable to comprehend death, but they can sense what their caregiver is going through. Take care of yourself and acknowledge your own need for grief. Maintain as many procedures as feasible.
Death is a part of life. Everyone dies at some point in time. There are two ways people deal with this fact: either by denying that it will ever happen to them or by accepting it but not dealing with it. Most people try to be aware of their mortality while at the same time maintaining a positive attitude toward life.
Children notice changes in you. They may ask questions about why you're acting or feeling a certain way. Try to be honest with them; otherwise, they might start thinking negatively about death.
Toddlers can sense death because they understand that people die. They may get upset when they see you grieving or when you deny that someone important to you has died.
They may also seem interested in death for strange reasons. For example, a baby who sees a toy car thrown out of reach may decide that throwing things hard will make them stay put. Children take note of what they see and do and use this information to try and understand how things work.
Death can't be ignored. A child will eventually ask questions about it.
As an adult, you may help children grieve by demonstrating that it's alright to feel sad and assisting them in making sense of the loss. Answer any inquiries the youngster may have as honestly as possible. When describing death to a youngster, use basic, honest, and concrete language. Avoid using euphemisms such as "passed on," "gone to sleep," or "in heaven." Also, avoid discussing the circumstances surrounding the death with young children.
It is important not to make assumptions about a child's ability to handle a tragedy such as this one. Some kids are older than others, but no matter how old they are, all children need time to process their feelings.
Here are some other suggestions for helping children cope with grief:
Join with adults in celebrating birthdays and other special occasions throughout the year.
Encourage children to express themselves creatively. Art therapy is a helpful tool for youngsters to express themselves in a safe way that doesn't put them at risk of hurting themselves or others.
Take children on outings that they enjoy together. This can help them get back to their normal routines after a tragedy.
Listen without judgment; simply listen.
Don't try to hurry the process along. Grief has its own timetable and children will tell you when they're ready to talk about the death.
Having supportive individuals around you is the single most significant aspect in recovering from sorrow and loss. You may help the children in your care recover by asking them about their feelings, spending time with them just being there, and listening when they want to communicate. Social workers can also help by providing support and guidance during this difficult time.
Foster parents often feel guilty for losing a child, but it is normal to experience grief over the loss of a loved one. It is important not to compare your foster child to her/his biological siblings or other children in your care. They may have had different experiences than others, but that doesn't mean they weren't equally as valuable in your eyes.
If you are experiencing depression or anxiety due to the loss, it is important to seek professional help. Your mental health is important so don't hesitate to ask for what you need.
Many organizations provide resources for foster parents who have lost a child. You may want to contact these groups for support:
American Foster Care Association (www.afca.org)
Association of Family & Children's Placement Services (AFCPS)
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)