Grief and loss

Recently I found myself helping many people recover from a tragic event here in Orlando. It broke my heart to hear the sad and tragic stories. Some parents told me that they didn’t want to share with their children the truth to the events, in order to protect them from pain. Often times however, children hear about current events from their peers, or see things on Social Media. Honesty is the best policy. Here are some suggestions for working through grief and loss with children:

  • Children grieve differently than adults. They may clam up inside. Have books with topics that are kid friendly around them. Bibliotherapy is a great tool to approach a topic, but in a safe manner for children. (Booksthatheal.com)
  • Be available to talk when topics come up. Let them share.
  • Find ways to help. If the child has had a friend move away, help find ways to stay connected. Get an address and introduce kids to the power of becoming pen pals. Writing letters is truly a lost art, but it is so much fun to get a letter in the mail box. If there have been other losses, children can still write memory letters, say prayers, light a candle, send off a balloon or donate to a charity.
  • Keep normal routines as much as possible. Routines help give balance.
  • Allow children to vent their frustrations. Have a safe zone such as empty egg cartons, cereal boxes and items to crush and break if they need to express themselves physically. A safe zone is a good place for the child to be able to vent in a safe manner if they need to let out some adrenaline.
  • Have art supplies out, as children express themselves with art and play as this is their language. Tell them they are free to express their emotions on paper. Have play doh on hand, as well as Kinetic sand, puppets and toys to help them express their emotions.
  • Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.
  • Look to find the good in people. Look to the community and point out all the friends who are making a difference in the community. Look to the faith based groups, charities, as well as the EMT’S, Firefighters, Military and Police Officers.
  • Find a Play therapist or LMHC if they are struggling with expressing their grief.

Talking is so important to help with the healing process. Brain science has taught us that the more we communicate and share traumatic stories and events, the sooner we will heal and have less PTSD symptoms.