Kids Can Offer Aid And Comfort
The loss of a parent or spouse is a painful thing. It may be hard to continue to go about your everyday household and work duties. For an elderly person, losing a spouse after so many years of marriage can be devastating and it can be hard to regain a sense of equilibrium or jump back into the swing of regular activity. There is not a lot anyone can do, to help the elderly work through their grief.
On the other hand, grandchildren may be struggling with their feelings of loss, too. Depending on their age and experience with death and dying, they may not yet understand the impact the passing of a relative will have on them and on those they love. They may not realize the permanence of death or feel much of anything right at that moment.
As a parent, you want this first experience with loss to be as kind as possible to your child, but you know he needs to learn this painful lesson in a meaningful manner. If it's your parent who has passed on, you may be feeling a great deal of grief yourself and may feel that your strong emotions keep you from helping your children through this time in the most productive manner. You may not even be able to offer your remaining parent as much help as you'd like as you work through your own feelings. One really novel idea that can help everyone is to encourage your child to be a consolation to his remaining grandparent.
A grandparent may feel more comfortable sharing his feelings with a youngster, since children have the tendency to be more in touch with their feelings. It's also true that stories about a deceased grandparent may be new to a grandchild, so that the remaining grandparent takes great relish in having a new audience. Telling the grandchild these cherished stories bring both tears and comfort at one and the same time, but the child is gaining too. The grandchild gains a sense of his personal history as he hears these family legends about a deceased loved one.
Sense Of Finality
As he spends time with his grandparent, the grandchild should be able to gain a sense of the finality of death as he witnesses in his loved one the various stages of grief. Perhaps the child can sleep over for a week or so at the grieving grandparent's home and offer warm hugs and caresses, or perhaps, here or there, some dry tissues or a cool drink. Not only does your child assimilate his grandparent's great loss, he gets to feel as though he had an impact and helped his grandparent to some real comfort.
Even sitting nearby in silent solidarity can provide solace for child and grandparent. Keep in touch with your child by phone and offer encouragement and praise for his special role in helping a grieving grandparent. Your child will always look back and feel a sense of accomplishment for his very real assistance to a loved one at a most difficult time.