Children and Grief
When a child experiences grief, we are here to help you find the words to discuss death and dying with your child. Our staff is very dedicated the children of our community, and will take every opportunity to provide healing support and understanding to every child in need. At our funeral home, our Children's programs are very close to our heart and we hope that you will take advantage of them if the need arises in your family.
Please contact us to learn about the Children's programs at our funeral home and in our community. If you have any questions, we are here to help in any way that we can. One very important way to increase awareness of children's needs is to dispel the myths that surround their grief.
THE STAR PROGRAM
We offer a special children’s program entitled the STAR program (A Special Time to Always Remember™) Through the STAR program, our staff helps explain what a funeral hearse, eulogy and more is, to kids. The program is geared toward kids 3-18 but can be helpful for people of all ages.
Kids begin with a coloring book, telling the story of Grandpa Amos dying. The funeral home provides literature featuring traditional and cremation funerals, depending on which service is taking place for that family member. The half-hour program takes place during the visitation for family, and can also be good for parents to observe, to know how to talk to their children about death.
Aside from reading through the coloring book on death, we give each child a keepsake picture of their loved one that they can write or draw a message on and remember their loved one forever. The children also receive a Star that they may write a message on and can put in the casket with the deceased. For more information on the STAR Program, visit their Web site at http://www.thestarclass.com.
Myths About Children and Grief
1. Young children do not grieve. Children grieve at any age. Their grief can be manifested in many ways depending on their age, developmental stage, and life experiences. Children often do a very good job at grieving intensely for a time and then taking a break. The break is usually in the form of play. Adults often mistake a child's play as a sign that the child isn't grieving, which is just not true.
2. Children should go to funerals. Children should not go to funerals. Both statements are myths. Children, even very young ones, should have a choice whether they want to attend the funeral. Each child handles their loss differently and should be allowed to grief as they wish. For their choice to be a meaningful one, they need information, options, and support.
3. Children get over loss quickly. Adults never get over a significant loss so why should children? The truth is that no one really gets over a significant loss. We can learn to live with the loss and adapt to the reality that the one we love is no longer here, but we can never forget the intense feeling of loss. Children may revisit their loss at different stages in their development and as their understanding of the loss changes, their grief may arise again.
4. Children will be permanently scarred by a significant loss. Children, like most people, are resilient. A significant loss can affect a child's development but adequate support and continuing care can help them deal with their feelings of grief appropriately.
5. Encouraging children to talk about their feelings of grief is the best way to work through their loss. It is important to allow children to talk through their feelings and to promote open communication. However, other approaches, such as art, play, music, and dance allow children to express their feelings. Children and adolescents may use these methods to express their grief and adapt to their loss with a more positive outcome.
Working through grief and adapting to loss is important for children. Studies have shown that children and adolescents that have unresolved grief are at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety as adults. It's important then that family members recognize the needs of grieving children and help them access the resources they need.
Below, please find a list of books available to help with the grieving process in young children.
I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
Missing Hannah: Based on a True Story of Sudden Infant Death by Darlene Kane
Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
Dragonfly Door by John Adams
Flying Hugs and Kisses by Jewel Sample