Instagram LIVE Event: Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement
Join @my_grief_connection founder, Sara Cobb, and author Danica Thurber of @projectgriefart for a
special Instagram LIVE event on Friday, October 16th at 6:00 PM (MST). We'll be giving you a
preview of her beautiful new children's book, “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement.”
We'll also be chatting about our favorite grief resources for children and share some suggestions
to help parents & caregivers who are tending to children who are grieving.
“Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement” gives children a way to creatively express their thoughts
and emotions about death & grief. It’s also a helpful resource for the adults in their lives because it
helps both sides engage in meaningful conversation. There’s even instructions to a cute craft activity
that goes with the book - one which kids and adults can do together.
Attend the IG LIVE for a chance to will a FREE eBook copy in a drawing!
The e-book is available now as a pre-release on Amazon and it’s only a few dollars.
It can be purchased via the affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/3lIhVcE
The printed paperback version will be released on October 20th, and if you’d like to get an email when that’s available, you can sign up on the author’s waitlist at https://projectgrief.org/p/kidsbook
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Talking With a Child About the Death of a Loved One - By Guest Blogger Danica ThurberRead Now
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Talking With a Child About the Death of a Loved One
1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.
(Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying)
Talking to a child about death may be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life. I conducted a survey in early 2020 about parents’ experiences with helping their children talk about and grieve the loss of a loved one. One respondent’s answer was very telling:
[M]y husband, their father, died. Telling my kids was even more painful than his death.
That’s what makes this topic so complicated: along with starting difficult conversations with your children, you yourself may be deep in the throes of grief for the loss of the same loved one.
While I wish that there was a way to lessen your pain, I have found that there are several things you can bring into conversations with your kids to make it easier.
As another survey respondent wrote:
Knowing the right language and having guidance on how to talk about death can help make the conversation less scary and have the confidence the conversation is healthy.
The following tips will do just that - provide guidance that can help you have some structure, as well as some confidence, as you enter the unknowns of these difficult conversations with your children.
DON’T SOFTEN YOUR LANGUAGE - BE DIRECT
“We speak of heaven and of illness. We do not use words such as ‘she went to sleep’... It can be hard at first to be direct, but two years later we see great fruit from the hard conversations.” - 2020 survey respondent
It can be tempting to soften the blow by softening your language (“he passed away,” “she went to heaven in her sleep”). However, kids don’t necessarily grasp the nuances of adult language. For young children especially, it’s important to use the words “dead” and “death” and then to describe what that actually means. For example:
“… explain that when someone dies their body stops working, they can’t eat, talk, feel, etc. That their heart and lungs stop working…” - 2020 survey respondent
My children’s book, “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement,” portrays this type of direct conversation in a simple and emotional way. The main character, Lulu is eight years old, and because this is her first major loss, she needs to know precisely what death means as it applies to her relationship with her Grandma:
Once a child understands the physical reality of death, you can then explain it in terms of your family’s spiritual beliefs regarding what happens after death.
If you’re facing an impending death, you’ve got a good opportunity to be honest with children now about a loved one’s prognosis. I know it’s hard to be honest about this, because you may be having a hard time accepting their prognosis as well. However, talking about what will happen when the loved one dies, as well as who will take care of them, and then answering their questions, will greatly help them prepare for a loved one's impending death.
“My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2016. He died in May 2019. [A]long the way we worked to be honest with our kids about how serious it was while also not wanting to burden them more than was necessary.” - 2020 survey respondent
Kids though, take all their cues from their parents. While I was in deep traumatic grief, I tried to remain/appear steady for them. - 2020 survey respondent
The concept of death is something that is acquired as a child matures and goes through life experiences. Explaining death using concepts that are either too old, or too young for the child, may cause more frustration and hurt. It may be helpful to research developmental understanding of death before approaching your conversation with your child. Cancer.net has a very helpful summary.
According to cancer.net, school-aged children (6-12 years old) are able to understand that death is final (AKA, irreversible regardless of what they think, say or do). However, they may still think of the deceased person existing in a changed form, such a spirit, like a ghost, angel, or a skeleton. “By age 10, [children can] understand that death happens to everyone and cannot be avoided,” that is, they understand the universality of death. They may be interested in the specific details surrounding the circumstances of that person’s death, or what is being done to the body (autopsy, cremation, burial). School-aged children “[m]ay experience a range of emotions including guilt, anger, shame, anxiety, sadness, and worry about their own death,” and they may also incorrectly assign blame to themselves, thinking they somehow caused the death. Every child will experience grief differently, but some may “[s]truggle to talk about their feelings. Their feelings may come out through behaviors such as school avoidance, poor performance in school, aggression, physical symptoms, withdrawal from friends, and regression.” In addition, school-aged children “[m]ay worry about who will take care of them, and will likely experience feelings of insecurity, clinginess, and abandonment.”
In light of this age-centered understanding of death, when talking to a school-aged child about death, you may:
“Helping them know their dad is still with them, loves them and is proud of them.” - 2020 survey respondent
A child’s sense of security is rocked when a loved one dies. Speaking from my own experience of childhood loss,
I know that children will need an abundance of reassurance in the coming weeks and months in order to recover that loss of security.
DON’T say things like these:
Hopefully you can detect the cringe-worthy burdens lurking behind these words. While these phrases may have the appearance of reassurance, they only serve to stifle a child’s grief because of an expectation of how they “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling.
Instead, here are some things you can do repeatedly (keyword!) in conversations with your school-aged child:
LET THEM LEAD
“I try to just meet them wherever they are emotionally. If they want to talk, we talk. If they want to cry, we cry.
If they want funny stories, we tell funny stories. I have found in my own grief, that grief is much more bearable
if you’re allowed to talk about it & live in it. So i try to do that for them too.” - 2020 survey respondent
It’s commonly said that a child’s inability to cope with trauma or big emotions is the their mind’s way of protecting them. Children will tend to express their grief in small spurts, rather than in long, drawn out seasons, as an adult would. In between these spurts, the child may seem completely fine. According to cancer.net, “A child’s grief may seem to come and go. And a child may rarely verbally express his or her grief. This is normal. Your child may also re-experience the intensity of the loss as he or she grows up.” It’s almost as if the loss needs to be re-processed with each developmental stage they pass. I’ve certainly found this to be true in my own experience.
DON’T force a child to engage in a grief activity. Have activities such as a trip to the cemetery, a book about loss, or a therapeutic art activity ready to go for when they seem to be feeling sad or when they bring up a question. Let the child’s emotions lead you, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. You might also learn more from an overheard conversation during play time, or their recent drawing of the family.
“When the boys were 3 and 5, their brother died as a result of a birth defect […] We learned to be more in the moment when it came to grief for them-they would be sad and ask why he had to leave one minute and then be totally ok the next.” - 2020 survey respondent
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you yourself are emotionally incapacitated by the loss of a loved one, it can be near impossible to provide the support your child needs. It takes so much courage to recognize that you need help. Attending counseling and seeking social support from other trusted adults will help not only you, but your child as well.
Pay special attention to signs that your child may be having an especially difficult time coping with a loved ones death:
See source link here.
YOU CAN DO THIS
While you’re the adult in the situation, that doesn’t mean you have to have it all together, or provide all the answers. A listening ear, a comforting hug, and a willingness to answer questions will go a long way towards helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one.
Remember, you’re allowed to grief, too. Showing at least some of your grief in front of your children shows them that it’s perfectly ok to feel their grief too. A family that learns to grieve together, no matter how messily, will be able to help each other find strength and hope as they navigate a loss, together.
Books can be helpful tools for both you and your child. They can be conversation starters, as well as give you a tangible reference point for discussing things you don’t have words for (“remember how in the book, Grandma lost all of her hair? That’s what will happen to your mom soon.”). If you’re looking for a book that can help you and your child talk about things like death, cancer, hospice, or the loss of a grandparent, check out “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement,” available on Amazon on October 20, 2020.
Danica Thurber is a professional artist, therapeutic art Life Coach, and art teacher. She's also the art ministry director at Vineyard Boise. Visit her website at https://projectgrief.org/
6th Annual Fall Bereavement Conference
Because Kids Grieve will be hosting the 6th Annual Fall Bereavement Conference
on September 25th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
There will be two great presenters that you won’t want to miss! Nationally recognized bloggers
and speakers on topics related to grief and bereavement, Litsa Williams, MA, LCSW-C and Eleanor Haley, MS
of "What's Your Grief?", will be leading this year's discussion and training.
Their extensive background in leadership and grief and bereavement support will
greatly benefit professionals dealing with these issues.
Social workers, Educators and Counselors may earn 5 CEUs by participating.
Join this online event from your home or office computer. The cost is $25.
To pre-register for the event visit https://becausekidsgrieve.org/contact/ and send a message
requesting a registration form and/or additional info at email@example.com
or call them at 208-352-2994.
FREE Webinar - Wait, My Grief Has A Shape? Understanding the Loss Experience for Our Children and OurselvesRead Now
Wait, My Grief Has A Shape? Understanding the Loss Experience for Our Children and Ourselves
Wednesday, August 5, 2020 from 2:00 - 3:00 PM
Highmark Caring Place is presenting this NO COST which will highlight the spiral shape of grief -
explaining the differences in these spirals between adults and children.
Register for FREE now at https://lnkd.in/duQtGXB
Parenting After Trauma
Presented by Beth Tyson, Psychotherapist, Parenting Coach & Children's Book Author
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 11:00 AM (EST)
If you or a loved once have experienced a trauma, please Beth for the latest research and
tools on how to cope with trauma and loss. You will walk away with practical tools and information that will shift your perspective on both you and your child’s behavior.
This webinar is open to adults, parents, caregivers, and professionals working with children.
She will explain what is considered a traumatic event, how it impacts the brain and nervous system, and
what we can do to move forward in life with a whole heart. There is always hope and the potential for
post-traumatic growth if we take the time to process our experiences. Beth used personal experience to
motivate her to become a specialist in trauma and loss therapy.
She not only knows the clinical tools to heal, but she has been through it herself.
Save your spot before they run out!
Register at: https://chipper-builder-2756.ck.page/2538d447bc
3 Tips for Talking to Children, Adolescents, and Teens about Traumatic Grief
When it comes to talking with adolescents and teens about the loss of a loved one,
many adults are unsure what and how much to say. This webinar explores how to
communicate with adolescents and teens about death and loss in an age appropriate manner.
It also covers normal grief responses among adolescent and teens and
identify red flags that may indicate maladaptive grief.
Watch the FREE replay at: https://tinyurl.com/3tipstraumaticgrief
National Virtual Candlelight Tribute
Please join Judi's House & JAG Institute and National Alliance for Grieving Children in a
Virtual Candlelight Tribute on Friday, May 15th. Participate at a time that is meaningful for you.
This campaign is meant unite individuals across the county in recognizing those who are
grieving the death of a family member or special person.
To download your FREE candle coloring page and learn more, visit: https://childrengrieve.org/awareness/unitedingrief
The New York Life Foundation, has just released, "The Golden Sweater", a FREE downloadable children’s
book along with a discussion guide for families. This story is a story about a little boy named Kai who,
together with his mother, learns how to navigate a profound loss in their family. The book is dedicated to
children and families who have experienced the death of a loved one, and aims to help them better
understand, process, and communicate their grief.
Download your FREE PDF copy of "The Golden Sweater" and the New York Life Foundation will donate $1 for every download to one of their four bereavement partners, up to $175,000. You can also download the discussion guide to help children & families have productive conversations about the challenging and important themes in the book.
Visit www.thegoldensweater.org to get your copy today.
Please share with any and everyone you know who is dealing with the death of a loved one!
It's FREE and each download give $1 to help the bereaved.
What This Kid Wants Adults to Know About Grief
Author, children’s grief advocate, and fourth-grader Bryce Fields gives voice to grieving children with his
new book, “What This Kid Wants Adults to Know About Grief,” a guidebook for adults who are caring for
“little hurting hearts.” The book contains candid insights and an array of talking points to open up a
dialogue between adults and kids so that the care and healing process can be more collaborative.
Get the book at http://thiskidsgrief.com/
(Not an affiliate, I'm just a fan.)
FREE PDF downloads on the following topics are also available, including a
Grief Inventory Sheet, Info Sheet on How Schools Can Provide Grieving Children a Safe Haven &
The Top 5 Tips This Kid Has For Adults About Grief
Sara J. Cobb
Founder, My Grief Connection
Note: Note: The website contains some affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of these links we may receive a small commission
– at no extra cost to you. I only promote things I have have either personally tried or strongly believe are beneficial. Any commissions earned helps keep this
website going. Thank you for using our affiliate links to help My Grief Connection to continue helping grievers find help & hope.
Not responsible for the content, claims or representations of the linked sites, videos, movies, podcasts, groups, events, books, articles, etc.
This site provides links and general grief support information and is not intended to serve as or replace professional counseling, guidance or treatment.
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or someone else, please contact 911 or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
For any type of crisis situation you can text CONNECT to 741741 to chat with a Crisis Text Line counselor.
My Grief Connection - Created 04 July 2019
Updated 20 October 2020
© 2020 My Grief Connection