Lesson Learned (November 11)

Caring For Grieving Children

In this COVID-19 pandemic season of grief, most of us can barely keep our own lives together, much less take care of others. However, our children and grandchildren need us. One of our outstanding Americans just died of COVID complications at age 84 years on October 29, 2021. Colin Powell, a trailblazing United States General and a top diplomat, wisely said of children:

“All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop. Moms, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles—someone to hold them, read to them, teach them. Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals and knowledge of a hundred previous generations. Loved ones who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.”

My personal journey of grief coincides with the grief journey of many friends and family. I seek ways to remember my Beloved Araceli, who died May 17, 2021, while comforting others. I have sought succor in a class called Grief Share (www.griefshare.org/children). Here are suggestions from the Grief Share manual that have helped me aid our children and grandchildren. Thus, perhaps they will help others:

1 - Be authentic—the kids are watching us. Model for them that it’s okay to cry, be sad, and talk about your loved one. Also, model, with authenticity, how to walk through grief.

2 - Children grieve intermittently—grief will be mixed with play, laughter and fun. Let children be children.

3 - Your children may not grieve the same way you do—provide ways for the children to express themselves. Play is such an opportunity. Also, art and music can be used as means of expression. Respect their solitude. Be close to the children when they ask for hugs.

4 - Give truthful, age-appropriate responses to your children’s questions. Give as much information as children can handle according to their age level. Be honest!

5 - Be on the lookout for abnormal behavior—yes, grades may suffer. Eating habits may change. Sadness comes with grief. But if behavior is erratic or talk of committing suicide occurs, immediately seek help professionally.

6 - Get help—be responsible! Sometimes we need to share the care with a relative or friend or school teacher and counselor. Another adult talking to your child can help. Sharing the child’s grief allows a parent or grandparent the opportunity to refocus.

7 - Clarify family roles. When there is a death in the family, expected roles need redefined. Allow the child to be a child. Be clear about that.

I share this column with my granddaughters Harper Rose and Camille as I used to share my columns with Araceli. Camille had a suggestion which strikes me as perfect. She said, “Tell everybody to remember rainbows!”

Yes, we need to remember the universal symbol of hope: rainbows! Grief comes in the night, but joy comes in the morning. When the sun comes up tomorrow—when this pandemic has run its course—Camille, Harper Rose and I will look up in the sky for a rainbow!


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