When Children Grieve

Life can be beautiful. It is all the more frightening when a person is unexpectedly torn from life. Dying, death and mourning are topics that can cause children headaches. It is therefore all the more important that your questions are answered and that you gain an insight into this part of life. After all, death is as much a part of life as the birth of new life.

Tips For Dealing With Death

Whether your pet is no longer alive or a loved one has passed away: In dealing with death, there are some supports that can help you. In this way, you will no longer experience the sadness as so bad and can gradually focus more on life itself again.

Read the following tips and decide for yourself what could help you and what not.

Don’t Stay Alone With Your Grief

Grieving alone is not only difficult, but sometimes dangerous. As social beings, we need support from others during difficult times. This is how we can overcome challenges and emerge stronger from such situations.

Don’t withdraw too much and talk to your parents about it if you are often sad or feel that you can’t really cope with the topic of death. Moms and dads usually know exactly how you are feeling. They are experts in comforting you and will certainly find the right words to make the mourning phase easier for you.

Of course, no one can completely relieve you of your burden. After all, everyone has to go through grief and overcome the sometimes quite unpleasant feelings associated with it in order to grow from it.

If you wish, you can turn to a pastor or priest together with your parents if talking to mom and dad alone is not enough.

Sometimes psychotherapy is necessary. This is especially the case when children themselves witness someone dying in their presence. Something like this is even more difficult to overcome than the mere news of the death of a relative. That is why these children need special protection and support during the mourning phase.

Ask Questions

Many kids can’t understand why their pet or family member is suddenly gone. They are unable to make sense of the deceased’s disappearance. Where did he go? What happened? Does he no longer love me? Did I have something to do with it? Did I do something wrong?

If you have questions about death, ask them. Don’t let yourself be put off and ask again if some things are still not clear to you. Because being able to deal with death only works if you have developed a certain understanding of what actually happens in the process.

Say Goodbye

In some religions, it is customary to consciously say goodbye to a loved one after his or her death. In our latitudes, we bury the dead. Before that, there is an address by the priest in a quiet, pleasant atmosphere. All those who were close to the deceased are invited to this funeral service.

The speakers remember the deceased and tell a few anecdotes from his life. If one feels like it, one can cry at the funeral service. Many do so because memories and strong feelings come up within them during the ceremony. The funeral is a gathering during which you are not alone in your grief. There are hugs and conversations among the mourners.

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Together they take the dead to his grave to give him to the earth from which he was born. This closes the mental cycle of life for us and we go back to our own lives somewhat relieved.

After the funeral, the mourners gather to share a meal. One clarifies open questions and discusses organizational things. The bereaved sometimes have a lot to do after the death of their loved one. The will has to be announced, apartments are dissolved and the remaining property is divided up fairly. This is also part of the normal process when someone passes away.

It is not the custom in all religions to say goodbye to the deceased in this way. In any case, it is a good idea to say goodbye again at home in peace. Take a walk and close with the deceased person.

Remember

Even though we commit our dead to the earth and then go on with our own lives, we sometimes like to remember our ancestors and deceased family members as well as friends.

If you like, you can go to the cemetery from time to time. There you can put fresh flowers, beautify the grave with small things or water the flowers. Some people do this regularly and make it a kind of ritual. This can help to cope in life without the person who has already died.

You can also just stand by the grave for a few minutes and think about him or her in silence. Maybe you tell him or her what’s new with you and how you’re doing at the moment.

Remembering our dead creates inner peace and is something normal for most people.

Reorient Yourself

Death is not only a borderline experience for the dying. When someone dies, many things change for their loved ones. It is also a new beginning in their lives once they get over the grief. Many people take this time as an opportunity to turn their lives around a bit. They try to do this or that better or simply differently. The new situation may require a move or other major changes. This opens up unknown, new possibilities that can enrich and positively influence life.

Therefore, take the death of a loved one as an opportunity to start anew with your life yourself. What do you want to change? Remember that your life also has a limited duration. How can you make the best use of your time on earth? What do you want to experience and who do you want to be? Deaths are a good time to think about such things, make new plans and make a change.

Religion And Faith As Support

Personal spirituality can help deal with death well. What do you believe in? Belonging to a religion gives comfort and strengthens you during the time of mourning. Small customs, rituals and hope for life after death ease the pain of separation that the bereaved have to go through.

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It depends on a person’s personality whether he or she can overcome the death well without faith in an afterlife. Some people are strong enough to continue their lives unhindered even without faith. What one believes in or does not believe in must be decided all by oneself, by trusting and following one’s own beliefs and feelings.

Experience Other Points Of View

Talk to people who belong to other cultures or religions about this topic. You may come across a completely different point of view that you didn’t know before. Sometimes we can learn from other people. Also, if you are a Christian, you can take parts from other religions into your life if they are good for you.

Volunteer At The Hospice

Young people who are old enough can volunteer at hospice. This is a facility where terminally ill people can pass away with dignity. There they get the treatment they need to not be in pain. When the time comes to leave, they are not alone and can die without fear.

That may seem scary to you. But for many people, volunteering for hospice is a great enrichment to their lives. Through direct contact with terminally ill people, they experience their gratitude, learn a lot about life itself and can overcome their own fear of death. If this topic interests you, contact the local hospital or the Red Cross. Free courses are regularly held there for volunteers, which serve as a basis for the work.

Fear Of Death?

Many people are tremendously afraid of dying at some point. Some go downright crazy because they can’t think of anything else. They want to escape death and at the same time know that this is actually not possible.

Fear of death is also natural to a certain extent. We have to think about what is happening to us in order to better understand what is happening.

For many kids, the fear of death sets in when a beloved family member or someone they know passes away. They may have trouble sleeping and think a lot about life and death.

Bring up the topic in class or ask your classroom teacher if it is on your mind a lot. Because this topic is also part of the curriculum and should be discussed. Sometimes it helps to talk about it in a group. Then you see that you are not alone with your thoughts. After all, this topic affects all of us without exception, doesn’t it?

In time, the fear of death usually disappears of its own accord when we realize that dying is part of life. When we accept this fact, it suddenly seems much less frightening than before.

This Is What Happens When You Grieve

After a loved one dies, we grieve for him or her. We are sad that he or she has now left us and will not be coming back. Almost everyone grieves the loss of a loved one at least once during their lifetime. Crying, withdrawal and intense emotions are a completely normal process when someone has died.

In the past, researchers have found that people always behave quite similarly when they are grieving. From their observations, scientists were eventually able to create a phase model of grief. As the name suggests, it is divided into several different phases of grief – a sequence of behaviors after the death of a loved one. We would now like to briefly introduce you to this phase model. Because if you know about it, you will also have more understanding for yourself and your own feelings during the time of mourning.

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Phase 1: Denial And Not Wanting To Be True

The first reaction to being notified of a loved one’s death is one of shock. Both adults and kids tend to actively deny the person’s death during this initial period. They feel that there must be some mistake. If the deceased has become unrecognizable due to the cause of his death or if he cannot be found at all, this phase is particularly difficult and long for the bereaved. They then hope for quite a long time that the beloved person is still alive after all and that there has been a mix-up with someone else. Normally, however, the denial lasts only for a few hours or days. Affected individuals then experience physical symptoms such as sleep problems, restlessness, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.

Phase 2: Waves Of Emotion, Anger And Sadness

This is when the grief really starts to make itself felt for the first time. Real waves of emotion break over the bereaved. A deep pain is accompanied by feelings of fear, anger and powerlessness. However, if the deceased has suffered for a long time, the bereaved may also feel relieved. Then the joy that the loved one no longer has to suffer prevails.

Depending on how the person died, however, there may also be terrible feelings of guilt and a guilty conscience among the relatives. For example, people blame themselves for things they said a long time ago or feel sad because they parted ways in an argument. Some people even blame themselves for the death of the other person. If one was involved in an accident or if it is a suicide, the feelings of guilt can become really bad.

Because you feel so bad, you can be very angry during this time. Sometimes doctors or nurses get to feel this anger. People of faith are angry at God and can’t understand why He could let something like this happen. Many are angry at themselves for not being able to do anything about it. Others are angry at the deceased because he abandoned them. This is especially the case if the deceased died due to suicide.

At first glance, anger and aggression seem negative and frightening. In fact, expressing these feelings is very important for those who are grieving. Not giving expression to one’s feelings can lead to serious mental illness. People who withdraw into themselves and do not externalize anger or sadness can fall into severe depression. It is not uncommon, therefore, for bereaved people to have to spend some time in a mental institution in order to be able to recover themselves from what has happened by receiving psychotherapy and medication.

This mourning phase is therefore particularly important and has its justification. That is why mourners should not be prevented from crying or being angry. Sometimes it is better to just let someone cry or rage instead of constantly placating him or her. This is the only way his or her emotional wounds can heal over time.

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Phase 3: Seek Connection And Let Go

Before one can finally let go of the deceased, one usually tries to connect with him or her once again. One wants to feel connected to him and feel this connection. Then you visit places or look at things that remind you of the best moments with the deceased. Some mourners even wear the clothes of the deceased to feel close to them. This is also perfectly fine.

This time should be used to work through unresolved issues once again internally. Perhaps one goes over past situations again or says goodbye inwardly by “talking” to the deceased. During this time, intense emotions may arise again, as in the second phase. They also help in the third phase to cope with the death.

By the time this period passes, one has usually become comfortable with the idea that the loved one is no longer here. One is aware that he or she will not be coming back and has let go a bit. Still, you may find yourself inwardly talking to the deceased over and over again, or leaving his old room as if he were still alive. Some even set the table for the deceased. All of these behaviors ease the pain of having lost someone. They help us get over this difficult time. That’s why such behavior is okay. However, one should not hold on to such daydreaming for too long, because otherwise it is quite easy to lose touch with reality. Then you may never be able to completely separate yourself from the deceased and never find your way back to normal life.

Phase 4: Accept And Start Anew

After having lived out the grief in the form of intense emotions, inner dialogues and memories of the deceased, comes the fourth stage of mourning. However, it can only occur when one has let go of the deceased and is no longer constantly talking to him or pretending he is still there.

Now one dedicates oneself again to one’s own life and rearranges it in such a way that one can continue to live without the deceased. Because every change also creates new possibilities, many things can change for the better during this phase. For we always adapt to our fellow human beings to a certain extent and thus experience limitations of which we are not aware. When a person dies, it not only changes our lives in that we have been deprived of a dear person.

Coping with a difficult phase of life also makes us stronger and gives us more self-confidence in the end. In addition, we can deal with the topic of death a little better once we have gone through the grieving process. Because then we know: Death is part of life.

Worksheet For The Text

1) Briefly explain the term hospice.

2) Which tips for dealing with death did you remember from the text?

3) Briefly describe the stages of grief and briefly explain each stage using key words.

Photo: AntonioGuillem / bigstockphoto.com

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