“Life asked death, ‘Why do people love me but hate you?’ Death responded, ‘Because you are a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.”
Death, the inevitable fate of all life.
Everyone manages grief in their own way. For a child, the devastation of such a catastrophic event can forever alter perceptions of their reality.
Children are so emotionally dependent upon those who are closest to them, it’s impossible to acknowledge life without those people. Yet acceptance is a fine line.
The younger the child, the easier it is to accept the loss. It isn’t that the child doesn’t care, it simply isn’t possible for those under the age of four to understand the concept of death. A toddlers’ reaction to the death of a loved one is based on his or her surroundings. Any changes within in a home with children are more complicated due to the disruption of their routine.
It’s important to keep your explanation simple, to the point. The dead aren’t hungry, cold, or tired. They are simply gone. If religion is part of your life, explain the passing like crossing a bridge or flying up to heaven. There isn’t a need to be dramatic or embellish. Answer questions the best you can, and remember the importance of being nonjudgmental. Your little one doesn’t have your life experience.
Older more mature children are likely to perceive death as it is; the permanent departure from who they love and care for.
It’s hard for them to muddle through the sorrow and pain. They become terrified of losing everyone and might attempt to withdraw or revert, becoming demanding and needy. Hold your ground and remain supportive by encouraging them to express their feelings. Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms to get them through their grieving process. Consider seeking professional help.
“The unmarred innocence of a child is a temporary veil of protection that every mother begs God to preserve, always”. ~Shell DeToni
Below is one of many letters written by a child searching for answers while trying to make sense of a life that had been turned upside down by the death of a loved one. She blames herself for how this tragic event has tore her family apart. The child’s lack of life experience simply makes it impossible for her to comprehend the simple fact that one cannot be held accountable for other people’s choices, nor is she responsible for those affected by the decisions other’s have.
It was her first experienced with death and while time has been kind, her lamentation has yet to be concluded. Perhaps someday, that blessing will be meant for her. Nonetheless, acceptance looms nearby.
Hi gramma. It’s been a year now since I’ve talked to you. I know you won’t reply back, but I just really miss you so I wanted to say I love you. Every day I’m gonna be silly and childish thinking that you will respond, but in fact, I know deep down inside, that you won’t. I just really miss you. I wish you could come back. Because you’re gone, dad is getting worse, and the family is also. I keep listening to songs that remind me of you. Music is the biggest escape in life. I’ve noticed that you don’t have any pictures of me. Sometimes I get mad at you because I make myself think that I’m not really important and I get really jealous of the other kids because you played with them more when in reality, they will hardly or not at all remember you and I will remember you forever. I get really upset with myself for being mad at you. I don’t like it when I am. I made a note for you. It’s only three words though. I didn’t give it to you because I forgot to. I’m such an idiot. I hate forgetting things. Because of my stupid head, I forget a lot of things. I forget the good times, but remember the bad. I miss you too much gramma. I want you back. If I could take every single one of my tears your loss has brought me, I bet I could build a staircase to heaven with them so I could see you. I wish I could come and see you. Or at least call you for one last time, so I could hear your voice and your laugh again. I know I’m not the most important person in your life but I still miss you and cry almost every night for you. I just love you so much. I’m even crying right now as I type this. I’m trying not to wake everyone up. I just really miss you. Sorry this note was so long. I just wanted to get my feelings out to you. Well, I love you and miss you. Bye.
Grief has bonded the child’s innocence to this moment forever, yet love will someday grant her serenity. Children are easily distracted and might show behavior suggesting they’ve moved on as if they have accepted the lessons of finality. Weather it be they forget or they move on, time truly is the magical remedy for grief.