Most kids deal with the occasional loss of a pet fish, dog, hamster, gerbil, or cat. These are serious losses for children. I remember when my dog died when I was 12 years old. She was my constant companion from birth. She would snuggle with us and let us fall asleep on her belly when we were small. I felt her loss deeply to say the least.
But, she was a dog, and I got over it.
What if the loss for a child is closer to the heart? What if the child loses a friend or a close family member?
Our girls have experienced three seperate tragic deaths this past year.
- Jason Roncz, a young man of only 32, and father to their friends Michael and Reeann
- Audrey, a beautiful girl with special needs who went to their school and church
- and now the tragic death of our family friend Rachel Leazenby just a few days ago.
I am not a psychologist by any means, but I am a Mommy that loves my girls very much.
Here are some things we did that seemed to be helpful:
· We told the truth.
We spoke plainly and simply about what happened in words they could understand.
· We did not hide our own emotions.
When I cried in front of my daughter, it gave her permission to release the sadness she was feeling
· We had them draw what they were feeling.
This especially helped my oldest daughter who is not as verbally expressive with her emotions.
· We held them close and let them know how much we loved them.
Dealing with loss marks a child for a long time. The way we help them deal with loss will define how they cope with tragedy as they grow into an adult.
When there simply are no words, just hold them close and let them know that no matter what else changes around them, you love them unconditionally, and that will never change.