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Ways to Help Those Who Are Grieving
· Be available.
· LISTEN – with your ears, eyes and heart.
· TOUCH – it often says “I know what happened and I care. I am here if you need me.”
· Face your own feelings of loss and grief. Share them if you like.
· Be open and honest with feelings. Create an atmosphere of open acceptance that invites questions and fosters confidence and love.
· Encourage expressions of grief. Talking, writing, painting, yelling, etc.
· Provide appropriate places to express grief.
· Acknowledge the reality that grief HURTS!
· Do not attempt to rescue them from the hurt. It is necessary to work THROUGH the grief.
· Temper your expectations with kindness and understanding. Continue to expect him to function.
· Provide a quiet, private place to come to whatever the child needs to be alone.
For Children Who Are Grieving
· Respect a child’s need to grieve. Almost anything can trigger grief.
· Understand that priorities change. What you think is important may not be considered by the child as such.
· Realize that grief causes difficulty in concentrating. Children often experience a shortened attention span. Schoolwork is often affected.
· Do not isolate or insulate children from grief. Grief is a NORMAL and NATURAL REACTION TO LOSS (of any kind).
· Understand that other losses often accompany the identified loss. A change in residence, caretaker, school or peer group all add to the grief experienced.
· Loss of trust often compounds grief.
· Try not to single out the grieving child for special privileges or compensations. He still needs to feel a part of his peer group and should be expected to function accordingly.
· Set realistic goals with the child concerning his behavior, school performance and homework. Help the child create his own routines if necessary.
· Help the child find a supportive peer group.
· Help the child’s friends learn to be supportive.
· Become part of a caring team by establishing lines of communications with everyone involved with the child. Keep each other informed about the child’s progress.
· Understand that grieving children are often “busy” with the tasks of establishing a new identity. “WHO AM I NOW?” becomes a major concern.
· Family roles may change, as well as identities. This self-search often overshadows all the other concerns for many weeks and months.
· Know that grief lasts for longer than ANYONE expects. It may take months or even years before a child displays sign of the full impact of a family change.
· Maintain a daily routine if at all possible. Continuity becomes a safety net for grieving children. The continuity of attending school daily, being required to perform certain tasks in or out of school, and having to social routine provides children with some security and sense of stability in a topsy turvey world.
· Have resources [books, videos, support group information, resource list] available about grief, loss and change.
Courtesy, Archdiocese of Omaha, Family Life Office
From the Online Ministries at Creighton University
Online Ministries Grief Home Page
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