As parents, we are always looking to bear the brunt of anything bad, which might happen in life, and to spare our children hurt and heartache. Unfortunately, you can’t protect your child from everything. Grief can strike a child just as hard as or harder than it can for an adult. When a grandparent, aunt, sibling, friend or even a beloved pet passes away, your child might feel the pain of the loss and may not show visible signs of grief.
For this reason, seeking grief counselling for a child during or after traumatic event is a good idea. If your child is acting unusual following a death, or a traumatic event, such as the diagnosis of a severe illness to a family member or even a natural disaster, then booking an appointment is a good precautionary measure to take.
As parent you want to be on the lookout for unusual behaviours. Is your child having frequent outbursts or tantrums? Has your child suddenly started to climb into your bed every night or is your child no longer being independent but being extra clingy? Has your child withdrawn from family activities and no longer wants to play with her or his friends?
Children do process grief differently than adults. Depending on their age, a child might not even fully understand what losing a loved one might mean or why they can’t see grandma or grandpa again. It can be hard for them to make sense of their feelings or have the ability to express their feelings in a positive manner. Especially at a very young age, children may not be able to verbally express their emotions regarding the changes and loss they are experiencing.
It’s OK for your child to feel sad and not want to play with friends or family members. It’s when your child spends a lot of time crying, wakes up with reoccurring nightmares or can’t seem to get along with friends or families members many many months afterwards should you start to be concerned. Remember grief, sadness and being angry are all normal parts of grieving the loss of loved one. We all grieve differently and it takes us each a different length of time to overcome death and loss.
As parents, it’s important to help teach and show our children how to grieve and express our emotions. Share your sadness and tears with your children, it’s OK for them to see you sad and cry. Comfort, cuddle, and hold your children. Let them know it’s fine to cry, be sad, feel bad and miss the person who has died. The more you comfort your children, share your emotions with them and help them express their emotions and feelings the easier it will be for your child to grieve.
Here are a couple of available options when seeking grief counselling from a Kanata therapist:
Bring your kids. Bringing your kids to grief counselling sessions can help immensely. Therapists are trained to listen to what kids are saying and can offer insights that make sense to children. Also, it might just be easier for a child to open up to someone who isn’t an immediate family member. Through play, art or talk therapy a child therapist will be able to help your child with their emotions and can help you the parents help your child at home to heal from the lost.
Get advice. If bringing your kids to a grief counselling session seems extreme or unnecessary to you, or even if you just not sure about child therapy, you can still meet with a Kanata therapist to get advice on how to help your kids deal with the grieving process. You can learn how to help your children talk about their feelings and how you can detect any red flags.