Listen to this obituary
I was sitting in Counseling Foundations class in Graduate School at Freed-Hardeman University in 1993. Our guest speaker for the evening was a local funeral director with decades of experience. The subject was “Children, death, and dying.”
Our speaker told me about one funeral he held for a young boy. At one point during the visitation, he saw the deceased child’s even younger brother slip a note into the casket. Curiosity got the better of him and later on as they were closing down the funeral home for the night, he decided he just HAD to look at that note.
That the note was a picture of current events drawn through the eyes and fingers of a child and the caption read: “Have a nice trip. Tell Jesus hello!”
Friends, SOMEBODY had done a good job explaining death to a first grader! Someone who loved and cared and took time to talk and mostly listen to a 6-year-old. Could that have been a person like you?
I would like to offer a few suggestions on dealing with children, death, and dying…
1. Get the help YOU need to begin to deal with your own grief issues before you talk to your child.
2. Speak with a counselor of children, your minister, or friends who have experienced similar losses. Just as soon as possible after a death in a child’s circle of influence, I’d advise sitting down with a grieving child and read an appropriate book together.
E.g. = Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide to Understanding Death
E.g. = The Invisible String (A #1 best-seller on children and losses = for preschool/primary ages.)
3. You don’t have to be an expert on children and grieving in order to help your children through theirs. Your job is to get your own two feet back on the ground and has become an expert on YOUR child — you are best ready to help them grieve.
4. The Internet is full of helpful articles on helping children deal with loss and the grief that follows.
5. Children are resilient. If we do not fall to pieces, neither will they. They will look to those of us who are older as role models for how they should grieve. Let us make sure that we give them a good role model to follow!