Living a grief is not a simple matter, but when the one who is faced with it turns out to be a child, it is much more complex. How to deal with it?
Diego is a four-year-old boy and like all children his age, he likes to play, sing, draw and explore the world. However, for a few days he has begun to show that he does not want to play with his classmates or friends. At home, the picture is no longer the same: his box of cars is stored and he has not wanted to take it even by mistake. The reason? His mom passed away a few weeks ago.
How to accompany children when they lose a parent
This story is sadly lived by many children around the world, and although it is true that motherhood / fatherhood is ideally faced by two, for very varied reasons this is often not possible. This situation results in thousands of fathers and mothers facing alone the most complex experience and at the same time the most beautiful life can offer: having children.
For this reason, as a society we face different models of families: two parents present, mother or father absent (which can be given for various reasons, for example, constantly traveling for work reasons or until the death of one of the parents) . Others, on the other hand, left one day and decided not to return. Regardless of the reasons they have had for leaving the family nucleus, the feelings that remain in the children are the same: fear, sadness, confusion, resentment and key questions whose answer is essential so that every child can gradually form their identity: Where do I come from? What would it be like to be able to grow with her? Along with these little ones, we can find adults full of fear, who wanting to protect them, have resorted to telling half-baked, modified stories, or have opted for silence, because they do not know how to face such a crude scenario.
But what can an adult do in this situation? The answer is only one: accompany in pain, with the truth. How? With some tips that I detail below:
1. Naming emotions
When human beings experience intense pain or emotions, they tend to isolate themselves and feel lonely. Therefore, it is essential that we begin the healing process by allowing the creation of spaces that allow the child to express what they feel. A good example is saying, “I know you miss your mom / dad, do you want a hug?” A little phrase like this will show us receptive and willing to accompany you in your pain.
2. Respond truthfully
It is not necessary that we deliver an extensive version of why mom or dad are not there, just use simple words that, little by little, provide a balm that relieves the pain they feel.
3. Emotions should not be hidden
Many times we adults tend to put on a shell that does not allow others to see our emotions. However, this is not necessary. Be receptive to a hug, to say “I don’t know” and make it clear that, despite the difference in age or experience, pain is capable of connecting adults and children through love.
4. Leave blame behind
It is normal for children to experience feelings of guilt, however, we must always make it clear that the absence of a parent is not their responsibility at all. That they have done nothing to provoke it and that it may have happened for various reasons, many of which will be unknown to all.
5. Open paths
As children grow, different questions will appear. For this reason, it is very important to be open to answer their questions and thoughts, but above all, to listen and accompany.
6. Show that there are different ways of making a family
Not all families are the same and it is our responsibility to let children know that they are part of a family that loves them unconditionally, willing to move forward with perseverance and healing the wounds left by the absence of mom or dad.
Little by little Diego will live his duel. It is necessary for him to do so, but even more important is that his father knows how to give him the necessary tools to be able to get ahead in a healthy way, without leaving questions and much less making him feel that he has responsibility for the facts.