The death of a child is something that seem so unnatural that anyone associated with the event often has no idea how to handle it. And while adults are often more familiar with death, likely having known someone who has died in one way or another, when your child knows someone who’s died, especially if that person was a friend of their own age, it can be extremely hard to come to terms with. As a parent or guardian, you likely want to do everything in your power to care for and support your child, but you might be unsure how to do this. So to help you learn how to navigate these waters, here are three tips for helping your child through a friend’s death.
Take Their Grief As It Comes
Depending on the age and maturity of your child, the way they will handle their grief can vary drastically. Because of this, Alyson Schafer, a contributor to the Huffington Post, reminds parents to realize that grief is a very individual thing and to try to just take their child’s grief as it comes. Share with your child that whatever it is they’re feeling right now is totally normal, be it feeling sad or wanting to get back to their normal routine. For children, grief can take a while to go through because they can get so easily distracted by their emotions, so try not to rush them if they seem to still be having a hard time months after the death has taken place.
Help With Their Self-Care
Especially if you have older children or teens, they might be taking the loss of their friend particularly hard. In times like this, it’s not uncommon for your child to neglect some of the things they normally did or took care of before their friend died. This includes hygiene and self-care that’s crucial to helping them deal with grief and sadness. So if your child’s struggling in this area, Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, a contributor to U.S. News and World Report, advises that you step in more and help ensure that your child has their needs taken care of, including that they’re getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods each day.
Find A Way To Say Goodbye
To help your child find some closure, Tamekia Reece, a contributor to Parents.com, suggests that you and your child find some way that your child can say goodbye to their friend. For some, going to the funeral or memorial service can be helpful. For others, going to their grave later or writing a letter to their friend expressing their emotions can be beneficial. Whatever your child wants to do and is comfortable with should be encouraged as a way for your child to have some kind of closure after this tragedy.
If your child has a friend who’s just died, consider using the tips mentioned above to know how you can help your child cope with this event.