Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death
Adults typically respond in two ways to a child's loss: either total silence because they are concerned they could upset the child further (which to the child, must feel identical to being ignored), or fawning sentimentality that may comfort the adult, but can confuse a child who doesn't know how to express what they are feeling.
I don’t think any of us intentionally ignore or disregard or smother children when they are experiencing grief, I just think that is often the unintentional outcome of our own fumbling discomfort with death and sympathy.
Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Kidolences Origin Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death
I had a PhD, a body of research focused on childhood trauma and recovery, and a decade of clinical experience helping kids deal and heal, yet I was now at a total loss. It was as if I spent half of my life preparing for and helping others navigate terrain such as this, but when it was my turn, I froze. It is true that there are simply things in life you can never prepare for, no matter how hard you work.
I know now from my research and experience that there is consensus among experts and parents about a few basic tried and true tenets for helping kids cope with grief, loss and change. I've boiled them down for my own personal use with my children, for the next crisis, big or small, that will inevitably occur. It occurred to me that this is helpful for me, it might be helpful for you, too.