How to Help the Kids Cope with Loss—Part I
“I’m okay, but I can’t seem to get my 10-year-old son to open up about the prospect of his father dying.”
This concerned mom just wanted the best for her son. She didn’t know how to help her son grieve.
“Whenever I ask, he just answers, ‘I’m fine, Mom,’ and then he changes the subject. What can I do?”
When we’re trying to talk with kids about death, we often shuck and jive around the issue. We make it more complicated than it needs to be.
That’s because, if we might step back in our own lives and look at how we respond to loss—both positively and negatively—we will probably be able to help our own kids better.
When the mom was asked how she’s been acting in front of Little Johnny, she replied, “Oh, I need to be strong for him. I try not to let him see me cry. After all, I’m the adult.”
This one seems obvious, doesn’t it? Little Johnny is acting exactly the way he’s seeing his mother act—and “act” is a most appropriate word. So, instead of working so hard to be strong (and who is the person that decided that this is the time when we have to prove how strong we are??), the mom needs permission to be honest with her son, and let him know that she’s sad, and share how she’s actually feeling. This will go a long way to help comfort Johnny even more than trying to put on a happy face will.