|Â Â Ruth Williams|
Not long ago, we had another amazing retreat for 18 teens who lost a loved one. What an honor to be a part of their difficult journey. Itâ€™s hard enough to be an adolescent. Add the loss of someone close to you and that journey turns into climbing Mt. Everest!
Even the itty-bittiest of children experience loss, too. Little ones may not say the same words as teens or adults. But the loss has an impact on their young lives as well. The youngest of us may think Grandma is in heaven for now, but, due to their particular developmental stage, they may not realize Grandma wonâ€™t be coming back.
And, sometimes, itâ€™s the little ones who seem to â€śconnectâ€ť to their loved ones in different ways after theyâ€™re gone.
Grief clients have shared many stories with me about children in the family seeing, hearing, or feeling their loved ones. Somehow, in their innocence, perhaps they are more open to those experiences than we grown-ups are. Personally, I think thatâ€™s a gift! Sometimes all of the fear and doubt we seem to develop as we grow in years gets in the way of our accessing our loved ones after theyâ€™ve passed on.
If you have little ones who are in the home as someone is dying, please recognize they are part of the process as well. Maybe drawing a picture for their loved one can be healing. It could be a â€śparting gift,â€ť or, after the death, it could portray a memory or serve as a symbol of their gratitude for the part that person played in their lives.
Children respond differently to death, based on where they are in their own maturing â€“ physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Wherever they are in their own developmental journey, it helps to remember they are part of the family that is grieving â€“ an important part.
If you need help with speaking with children â€“ before or afterÂ a loved one’sÂ death â€“ please know that Alive Hospice is here to help. We have grief counselors who are very comfortable working with children. So, for suggestions that may help you through the challenging times ahead, or for actual individual and/or family counseling, please donâ€™t hesitate to call.