Caring For Surviving Children

bereaved siblings
* Your child has feelings and symptoms of grief similar to those of an adult. He may also seem outwardly confused and defensive about death.

* A surviving child is reacting to the loss of his sibling AND to the changed behaviour of his parents and others. Reassure him that the depth of a parent’s grief does not lessen the love felt for him.

* Be aware of your child’s level of understanding or misunderstanding: a child of two or younger has the concept of “here” and “not here”‘ a child of 3-5 years sees death as temporary; at 6 10 years a child understands the reality of death and is curious about biological aspects of death and details of burial; from 11 on a child conceives of death in a manner similar to that of an adult.

* Explain truthfully to your children, on a level they can understand, what caused the death of a sibling. Answer all questions simply, directly, giving answers to build on later, not ones that will have to be unlearned. Even a child of 2 or 3 can understand “his body could not work anymore.” The more a child understands, the less fearful he will be.

* Avoid euphemisms; they are easily misunderstood by children. Do NOT mix religious and medical causes. He was not taken because God wanted him in heaven. He died because his body could not work anymore. His body was buried in the ground. You may believe his spirit or all the things that made him special are with God.

* Your child has feelings and symptoms of grief similar to those of an adult. He may also seem outwardly confused and defensive about death.

* A surviving child is reacting to the loss of his sibling AND to the changed behaviour of his parents and others. Reassure him that the depth of a parent’s grief does not lessen the love felt for him.

* Be aware of your child’s level of understanding or misunderstanding: a child of two or younger has the concept of “here” and “not here”‘ a child of 3-5 years sees death as temporary; at 6 10 years a child understands the reality of death and is curious about biological aspects of death and details of burial; from 11 on a child conceives of death in a manner similar to that of an adult.

* Explain truthfully to your children, on a level they can understand, what caused the death of a sibling. Answer all questions simply, directly, giving answers to build on later, not ones that will have to be unlearned. Even a child of 2 or 3 can understand “his body could not work anymore.” The more a child understands, the less fearful he will be.

* Avoid euphemisms; they are easily misunderstood by children. Do NOT mix religious and medical causes. He was not taken because God wanted him in heaven. He died because his body could not work anymore. His body was buried in the ground. You may believe his spirit or all the things that made him special are with God.

dead child. Perhaps each child would like something “for the moment” and something to carry into adulthood: a book,. music, toy, clothes, photograph, jewelry.

* Give your child alternatives for using his grief positively drawing, writing letters, poetry, stories, diary, hammering, tennis, caring for plants.

* Allow your child (even the very young) to participate in family rituals if he’d like: visiting the cemetery, making arrangements for the grave, contributing to a memorial fund. Use HIS ideas of showing his love and his grief at anniversaries or special days.

* There is a tendency to idealize the dead and parents should take care not to make comparisons that could lead to feelings of unworthiness in remaining children. While it is difficult, parents should avoid being either over protective or over permissive.

* Your child will continue to need information on his sibling’s death at each new stage of growth. Be open to his questions. Respect his privacy.

These guidelines have been gathered from
bereaved parents, surviving children and
the writings of professional caregivers.

Lovingly Lifted from the web

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