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Location Finder

Here's your guide to finding any of the facilities in the Aultman family of health services, including maps and contacts. 

Need a Doctor?

Aultman Medical Group's network of more than 140 medical professionals is committed to high-level patient care.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 330-363-6288 or click below to complete an online form. 

 

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Understanding a Child's Grief

Children, like adults, experience grief in many different ways. Each has his or her own pace of recovery. There are things you can be aware of and do to help children through the grief process.

Children do grieve and are able to grieve at a very early age. As soon as children are able to love, they are able to grieve. Children may not be able to express their grief with words, but the feelings will come out, often through changes in their behavior.

What to Tell a Child

Children need to be told about a death. Children can cope with almost anything when they are included and allowed to express themselves. Allow children to participate in a way that's appropriate for their ages. It may help to create a drawing, go to the funeral or do a reading during the service if able. Allow children to know what is happening, when and why. Permit children to go to the funeral home, if not the actual funeral. Their imaginations may be more vivid than anything they may see in real life. When children see reality and are allowed to talk about it, they can usually cope.

How to Tell a Child

Be honest and straightforward. Use simple words, not stories or fairy tales. Statements such as "She went to sleep" or "God needed another angel" can create confusion or fear in children. It's OK to tell children that sometimes things happen that we don't understand. An honest answer is always best. If children are not told the truth, they may begin to doubt your honesty. Once that seed of doubt and mistrust is planted, it can be very difficult to overcome.

Share Your Feelings

Tears are OK. Allow children to see your pain. Hiding your pain or refusing to express feelings tells children that they are expected to hide their pain and feelings. Children will know hurt and pain no matter how hard you try to protect them. Your best gift is not to protect them from pain - but to teach and show them how best to cope and live through the pain.

Children and Play

Children learn to manage and understand their world through play. Because their attention span is limited, they will frequently alternate between needing to ask questions, to talk and to play. The child who goes off to play during a crisis is doing what is needed to "put things together" and eventually cope. Remember that the mind takes time to determine how best to cope with any situation.

The Role of Adults

Children need an adult they know they can trust with all of their feelings. They need to know they can talk freely with someone who will not judge them. This is the person they are most comfortable in talking about anything that is on their hearts. As much as parents may want to be this person, the parent may be hurting too much to fill this need. Another adult the children can turn to for support can be very helpful.

Points to Remember

  • Children should not be expected to take on an adult role in the home. Remember that they are still children. They should not be told to be strong for other family members. That is not their job in life. They need to be allowed to be children.
  • Children think that they are immortal ... "It can't happen to me." A child's first experience with the death of a loved one shatters this illusion. Children may become terrified that they will lose someone else they love or rely on. Let children confide their fears. They are not far-fetched to children. Reassure them that they are safe and you are still here for them.
  • Do not dismiss children's feelings of guilt over the death. Of course the children are not to blame, but their feelings can be very strong. They may feel they were "bad" and caused such a terrible thing to happen. It can be so difficult to see young children struggling with such feelings, but you must allow them to express these thoughts - or they may never be able to resolve the guilt.
  • Often children will think or say that they wish someone were dead. If that person does die, the child may think it is his or her fault and "wished for it." Work through these feelings with the child. To ignore this will not help the child deal with what are, for him or her, very real feelings.

Age Differences

As children grow, they develop new coping mechanisms to help deal with the changes that life brings. This is also true for those skills needed in coping with death. Children may re-experience the emotions surrounding the death at each new stage of development. Remember that each child is different and has very personal feelings.

If you desire help more specific to the age or needs of your child, please know that many resources are available in the community. You do not need to go through this alone. Your pediatrician as well as local churches, hospitals, funeral homes and hospices will likely be able to refer you to those who can help.

Location Finder

Here's your guide to finding any of the facilities in the Aultman family of health services, including maps and contacts. 

Need a Doctor?

Aultman Medical Group's network of more than 140 medical professionals is committed to high-level patient care.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 330-363-6288 or click below to complete an online form. 

 

Donate Today

You can help support and enhance services, and in turn, help patients and their families who benefit from care received at Aultman.

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