It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. My BFF just experienced the loss of her father-n-law today. Loss is always difficult but I find it's that much harder to cope with when it is sudden and unexpected.
My BFF has 2 wonderful daughters ( ages 4 & 3) whom she must now explain to that their grandfather is no longer physically with them. How do you do that?
To a child the idea of death is usually seen as temporary and reversible. Think of all the movies and cartoons out there today. My Lil Divas play "dead" all the time by sleeping and then being awakened by some sort of magic. How do you help them understand that death is constant. Their grandfather is not just sleeping, he is going to be asleep forever and they will never see him again.
I thought about this a lot today. A LOT!
A child's grief is complicated. Loss and death rarely make sense to us adults - how can it make sense to a child?
My heart is pained for my best friend and her family. Not only do they have to deal with their own individual sense of loss and grief but they have to find a way to explain this all to these little girls - forever changing the innocent way in which they view this world. This will be no easy task.
I can only imagine that the best way to help a child this age understand what has happened is to be as honest, simple and straightforward as possible. They are too young to fully grasp the concept of death and will most likely need to be reminded of what it will mean in terms they can understand.
Being a spiritual family, I am sure she will explain that their grandfather is now in heaven (another difficult concept) and that he is no longer physically here with them. They will need that concrete reminder.
I think the best thing the family can do right now is simply provide affection and nurturing and allow the girls to freely ask questions and express themselves. For a young child who has never experienced death, this is all new and confusing. They won't really know what to expect or how to act. It would be wise to be prepared for regressive or acting out behaviors, indifference or even denial. Don't we adults behave much the same way when faced with grief and loss?
It's going to be a long and hard road.
If you belive in the power of prayer - I ask that you pray for this family during their difficult time.
If you believe in the power of positive vibes - I ask that you please send some their way.
If you have experience in deaing with children and grief - please share your thoughts and ideas! Help is welcome and I will be sure to pass it along.
Thank you for letting me unburden my heart and mind with you tonight.