Dealing with grief and loss – Andrea Driver
As a parent we are often thrown knee-deep into a situation before we even know what has happened.
I was in this exact situation a few weeks ago as we coped with losing our beautiful family dog. I am not an expert on grief or loss but every child and every adult will experience grief or loss in their own unique way and time. In many ways grief is like a roller coaster and it can be extremely difficult to support children when parents may also be grieving. For some children losing a family pet can be their first experience of death and our first opportunity to teach them about coping with the grief and pain that inevitably accompanies the joy of loving another living creature.
While it can be difficult to talk to a child about death, it is important to be honest with them and help them to understand what has happened. Children will look to the adults in their lives to help them understand and respond. The support they receive helps children learn to manage and deal with losses that will happen throughout their lives.
Sharing your feelings of sadness and loss with a child can help them understand why you are sad, and see that it is alright to express sadness.
Children may experience grief in bursts, seeming okay one moment and the next they are not. Allow children space and time to grieve in their own way. Give them the opportunity to talk about how they may be feeling and answer their questions simply and honestly.
Growing up is an ongoing process of change for children. Changes such as losing a pet or family member, moving to a new home, family break-up or starting childcare or school brings new feelings, challenges and learning.