Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

September 12, 2012

The art to helping children grieve

“The only sure things in life are death and taxes,” — Benjamin Franklin.

Fortunately, children, so far, escape the taxes part. But death — whether of a pet, a dream, or a family structure — touches children’s lives all too often.

Our child’s pain pierces our hearts. Not knowing what to do, we can sometimes make the situation worse by ignoring the loss or minimizing our child’s reaction. This leads to a second loss for children — loss of parental support when they need it most. How do we help them grieve well?

Expect mood changes. Children function much like Tinkerbell. They are so small they can experience only one emotion at a time. At the loss of a pet, child can collapse into seemingly endless sobs. All of a sudden, hunger hits, and child seems fine as she focuses on her grilled cheese and grapes. Then, just when parent thinks the worst is over, sobs return. Don’t let this natural cycle of emotions throw you. Anticipate waves of emotion.

See Wednesday’s Times Sentinel for the full story.

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