Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Encouraging Your Child to Grieve

Encouraging Your Child to Grieve

1.  Specifically give your child permission to mourn.
2.  Be there personally for the child.  Provide affections and security, and also show support, concern, and acceptance by appropriately physically touching the child.
3.  Look for ways to help your child express his/her feelings both verbally and non-verbally.  
4.  Observe your child to see if they claim any connection of any personal wishes or actions to the death of his/her parent. Discourage “magical thinking” that they had any significant cause or responsibility for the death.
5.  Keep in perspective the developmental capabilities of the child and age related concerns at the time of death.  
6.  Depending on the age, your child’s ability to remember a parent who is physically gone may be limited.
7.  Be aware that your child will often need continual explanation of and communication about the death over an extended time.
8.  Recognize that your child is expressing feelings not only about the actual death itself, but also about the changes in the remaining parent and the family following the death.  
9.  Do not compare your child’s grief fully in comparison with yours as a parent or adult.  
10.  Observe your child’s behavior for indications of how he/she is coping.
11.  Educate your child that loss and death is likely to bring about intense feelings that are important to deal with, and that you’ll be there to help him/her through this.  
12.  Any changes in family responsibilities need to be appropriate for your child to handle.  
13.  Encourage your child to have patience with himself/herself and others.
14.  Encourage your child to talk with his/her friends.
15.  Recognize that your child will also likely need some time alone for healing.
16.  Structure your child’s grief into steps and periods so the child is less likely to become overwhelmed by grief.  
17.  Notice if your child is using avoidance or defenses too long related to the loss.
18.  With sudden death, it is important to provide a place for your child to say good-bye in order to complete “unfinished business” with the loved one to decrease the likelihood of unresolved grief.  
 Dr Dan Trathen is a minister, psychologist, international co-author, and national speaker. He lives in Colorado with his wife, children and grandchildren.

© Daniel W. Trathen DMin, PhD

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