The loss of a family member is a tough experience for everyone involved, especially for young children who don't yet fully understand the concept of death. Your little one knows something is wrong whether you directly tell them the situation or not, so it's best to be direct and explain things in a way that helps them accept the loss and naturally grieve. Here's how to make the death of a loved one less traumatic for your child:
Keep Communication Open
It's important to keep communication open with your little one after they've been told about the loss. Avoiding questions is a surefire way to make your child feel uncomfortable about the situation, and it may even cause some resentment. While some questions you're asked may be awkward to answer, think of each one as a teaching opportunity that will stick with your child for a lifetime.
Be honest about the process of losing a loved one and check out some child-friendly books from the library that will help to explain how and why death happens. If you don't know the answer to a personal or factual question, find the answer together by asking another family member or consulting a professional, perhaps someone from those providing the funeral home services (such as Farone & Son Inc).
Do an Art Project
A great way to help your child process their feelings and healthfully mourn your loved one is to do an art project together that allows each of you to paint a scene of favorite memories that can be dropped into the casket at the funeral as a good-bye ceremony. This ritual creates a deep family bonding opportunity and helps to release fear as well as anxieties. Consider making a copy of the photos you create together so your little one can have a copy of their own to keep and reflect on as they get older.
Frame a Photo
To help your child keep their memories of your loved one alive, have a photo of the two of them together framed and hang it on the wall in their room. This will give you an opportunity to refer to the photos as an aid when telling stories about old times, and ensure that the face of your lost loved one is not soon forgotten. Hopefully, the lesson learned by your child is that while the body may die, memories never do.
These methods will help minimize the chance that your little one dwells on the loss of your loved one, and instead cherish the memories that were made together in the past.