For some children, losing a grandparent is their first experience with grief. Understandably, the loss of someone close can leave them feeling sad, anxious, confused or upset.
While adults are busy dealing with funeral preparations and other arrangements, they should be sure to attend to children’s needs, too. Their grief is often different from that of adults. Families can support their children by recognizing their grief and helping them cope and heal.
Studies show that children who get honest answers to questions and are encouraged to express their feelings adjust better to their loss. Also of comfort is reminiscing—telling stories and using photos to recall happy times spent with Grandma or Grandpa.
The process of grief may not follow an orderly pattern. It can vary from day to day for children as well as adults. The path and duration of grief are different for each person.
Tune in to children’s needs during a time of family loss
Here are a few suggestions to support your child or grandchild in the grief process:
- Spend as much of your time with them as they need for comfort and assurance.
- Listen and respond when they express their feelings of sadness or anger. Help them understand that their feelings are normal
- Understand that they may exhibit changing moods and behavior.
- Explain that you’re sad, too, and they shouldn’t be surprised if they see you cry.
- Let them decide whether to attend the funeral. Allow them to go, but don’t make them go.
For more ideas, refer to our online information on ages and stages of grief. Separated into four age groups from 2 to18, it lists children’s responses to loss along with ways to guide them in coping. For example:
- Be truthful. For children ages 2 to 8, don’t use phrases that could confuse or frighten them, such as “went to sleep.”
- Help them honor and preserve the memory of their loved one by creating artwork, making a scrapbook or planting a flower or tree.
In addition, you can consult our online list of children’s books about coping with grief to aid you in talking with your child.
Country Meadows: Retirement homes with a focus on families
At our family-owned Country Meadows Retirement Communities, we not only support our senior residents but their families, too. That’s why we maintain a library of resources to assist and guide them.
All of our retirement homes are designed to facilitate family involvement and interaction with our residents. To promote family togetherness, we offer spaces for family get-togethers and celebrations. All our campuses have private dining rooms, indoor and outdoor common areas, game rooms and chapels for families to use. We also welcome family members to join their loved ones for meals, picnics, lectures and concerts, as well as special off-campus programs.
We hope you will contact us for more information or schedule a visit to any of our 10 retirement homes in Pennsylvania or our Maryland retirement home. We can introduce you to our comfortable senior housing in Lancaster, Reading, York, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, Pittsburgh and Lehigh Valley, PA or Frederick, MD, where you will find retirement living that is family-centered, active and fulfilling.