What happens when a child loses a loved one? As adults, we must be sensitive to each child’s reactions and realize these reactions will differ from child to child. Certainly, when coming to terms with death, children experience similar classic stages as adults. Their denial may be more adamant and their confusion more bewildering. “Is Dad sleeping or is he dead?” my great nephew asked his mother the day of my nephew’s recent funeral. “Why is Marianne so sad?” Children can’t possibly be expected to understand this profound separation immediately.
Children may be angry, too, and melancholy. They may switch emotions as they do their toys. Parents and adults can help their children take their own meandering path to understanding. This journey can take years. It is always important to discuss children’s issues and answer questions honestly. Then let time heal because it will. Adults need to provide a safe and happy haven until children accept that death is a reality. They will thrive again—it is the human spirit within us all—despite their sad and lifelong loss. Which Way is Paradise? (2017) suggests an eternal perspective, giving hope of life after death.
I would like to start a discussion about coming to terms with death for children especially, but also for anyone who has lost a loved one. How long do children grieve? How do they learn to cope? What steps have we taken to help children accept the earthly finality of death. Is there life after death?
Which way is paradise? Please add your thoughts about this important subject and let’s learn from each others’ contributions to the blog.