In helping your child to cope with bereavement, you may encounter situations that puzzle you. What can you do? Please consider these common questions that may come up.
SHOULD I HIDE MY GRIEF FROM MY CHILD?
It is natural to want to protect your child from any emotional expressions of grief, be they mild or intense. But is it wrong for your child to see that you are grieving? Many parents have found it best to be honest about their sorrow, thus showing their child that it is normal to grieve. Some have discussed with their children Bible examples of individuals who openly grieved. For example, Jesus gave way to tears when his dear friend Lazarus died. Jesus did not hide his emotions (John 11:35).
SHOULD MY YOUNG CHILD ATTEND PROCEEDINS AT A FUNERAL HOME OR AT THE GRAVESIDE OR BE PRESENT AT A MEMORIAL SERVICE?
If a child is to attend, it may be wise to explain to him or her in advance what to expect, including why the service is held. Of course, in some circumstances, parents may decide that there are good reasons for their children not to be present for all or part of the services to be held. Children who are present at funeral services, ....can benefit from and experience the "tender affection" and love evident among those present (Romans 12:15; John 13:34,35).
SHOULD I TALK TO MY CHILD ABOUT THE DECEASED LOVED ONE?
Some researchers say that if you completely avoid this topic, your child may mistakenly conclude that you are keeping something secret about the deceased away from them or are trying erase all memory of that one. Author Julia Rathkey observes: "It's important to help children learn to live with the memory and not to be afraid." Speaking freely about the deceased, including mentioning positive aspects of that one's personality and life, may well help in the grieving process.
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD WHILE HE IS MOURNING?
During the grieving process, your child may experience physical symptoms, perhaps illness. Your child may become angry or troubled because of feeling helpless and frustrated. Do not be surprised if your child id plagued with guilt, clings more closely to you, or panics if you arrive late or become ill. How can you handle your child's turmoil? Your child should never feel that you do not notice that something is wrong with them. So be perceptive or discerning and monitor the situation. Try not to misjudge or underestimate how much your child is affected by death. Provide regular reassurance, and encourage questions and open communication. You can strengthen your child's feeling of being loved and secure and yours as well "through the comfort from the Scriptures." (Romans 15:4).
HOW SOON SHOULD I RESTORE FAMILY ROUTINES AND OTHER ACTIVITIES?
Maintain as many routines as possible, say experts. Keeping healthy routines is said to be an effective tool for managing grief.
Until the time comes when Jehovah God brings an end to sickness and death, children will from time to time be confronted by the tragedy of death (Isaiah 25:8). However, with proper reassurance and support, children can be helped to cope successfully with the loss of a loved one (Isaiah 26:19; Revelation 21;4,5).
It should be noted that this information is not intended to establish rules. Circumstances and custom vary greatly from country to country and from culture to culture.