Blog — Dr Emily McClatchey

Finding My Oxygen

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Advice for sick children Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Kidolences Origin Talking to Children

Finding My Oxygen

A few months ago, I launched an enterprise aimed to help children enduring challenging times: the death of a loved one, a major life change, or a family member's illness. I also wrote a guide to explore and underscore the tenets that lie at the heart of my endeavors, explaining what kids need in trying times, why they need it, and how we can give it to them. My research on this subject took the better part of a year; the philosophy was a lifetime of experience and schooling in the making. When I finished my guide and blogged it,...

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You are Not an Afterthought

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Advice for sick children 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

Oxygen masks have become an oft-referenced analogy in coping: your first order of business is to take care of yourself so that you can properly attend to children. For the sake of yourself and the sake of children in your life, please don’t neglect yourself. Take time to pay attention to your own psychological health. Give yourself permission to grieve and to mourn. By attending to your own needs in times of crisis, you are not only maintaining a stable base for the children in your life, you are also modeling self-care and healthy coping. That is another priceless gift you offer to children.

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Kids Are Still Kids

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

Kids Are Still Kids

It can be jarring for an adult to see how quickly and easily children vacillate between grief and play; just when you've braced yourself to answer that difficult question or prepared for the anguish of trying to comfort an upset child, they've seemingly moved on from that moment in time. Indeed, children may surprise you with their easy ability to shift attention away from grief rather than wallowing as adults tend to do. In time, the child will likely cycle back through their sadness and re-grieve. It is important to normalize this vacillation-- both for your own reassurance and for the reassurance to the child lest they feel guilty for following their natural instincts to play. Play is not disrespectful to grief, it is an important aspect of coping and processing. 

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Kids Collect Mementos

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

Kids Collect Mementos

As parents, we struggle so mightily to shield our children from the excruciating pain of grief that we sometimes forget what might be best for them. If only we can control our own anxiety and desire to make it all better long enough to pause and listen, we might hear our children telling us what they need. Children, in their simplicity, can have clarity about death and how to appropriately honor a passing. They are not weighed down as we are with complexity and complication surrounding an adult’s understanding of death.

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Kids Experience Fear

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

Kids Experience Fear

Anxiety, fears and worries escalate in all times of loss for kids, not just in grief over death. Loss, change, and grief can cause upheaval that can cause children to regress to behaviors they have outgrown or that are more commonly seen in younger children. Children who were easy to potty train and mastered independent toileting may begin bed-wetting. You may notice sleep difficulties, nightmares, or a fear of the dark. In school, students may have difficulty concentrating, may easily lose focus, or may develop academic troubles. This aspect of child grieving – the anxiety and fear- can be the most trying for parents to watch their child struggle with. Our hearts break for them, and we may even feel frustrated or overwhelmed. Here are some tips for dealing with your child’s anxiety following a loss.

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