How To Comfort a Child Who’s Lost a Classmate or Friend

Posted on March 22, 2022 by Bevis Funeral Home under Children, Dealing with Loss, Grief Support
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According to statistics from Children’s Grief Awareness Day, 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. While this number may be sobering, it is also a difficult reminder for parents and caregivers that the loss may be a child’s classmate or close friend. When comforting a child who has lost someone, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Things to avoid

Acting like everything is normal

While this can be a tempting solution, , it is not usually beneficial to act as if nothing has happened with a child after a tragic loss. Children, even at a young age, can tell when something has changed. Be prepared and welcome any questions they may have when processing their grief and confusion.

Not talking about hard subjects

Death is a difficult topic to talk about – even for adults. When talking about a loss of a classmate or friend, try to avoid language such as “They are asleep now,” “They went to another place,” or “They are now with their Grandma.” This can make a confusing situation even harder to understand. Try to use clear and concise language. The experts at Psychology Today also recommend getting comfortable with the phrase “I Don’t Know” when answering certain questions, such as “What happens to Aunt Susie at the funeral home?” It’s OK to not know (or share) all the answers.

Not allowing them to be sad

It is easy in hard times to say phrases such as, “Your classmate needs you to be strong for them,” but this can be harmful to a young person who is grieving. Instead, try to remind them it’s OK to cry and feel sad. Be armed with phrases such as “It’s hard when someone we love dies,” “We will miss them greatly,” and “It’s okay to feel sad.”

Things to do

Be available when they want to talk (or just hang out).

If your child is grieving the loss of a friend, be sure you are ready when they want to talk about it. It may be difficult for them to open at first, but be there for them when they are ready to discuss it, or just want to be in your company.

Closely watch for any signs they might need additional help.

How a child mourns can often depend on their age. If an older child has lost someone, it is important to pay special attention to changes in behavior. While their routine has been disrupted by the loss, which can also result in a change in attitude or behavior, it is important to watch for dangerous or reckless decisions or actions that may signal that they need professional guidance. If so, do not wait to reach out for help.

Ask your child if they would like to attend the funeral.

Everyone grieves differently, including children. If the family is having a service for the deceased, ask the child if they would prefer to attend the funeral or stay home. Keep in mind that there are also many funeral homes that offer live stream services, which may be a more comfortable way for them to participate.

Provide opportunities to mourn and heal.

In addition to expressing your sympathy, there are other ways to give your children the opportunity to process what has happened. For example, flip through photos together of the child who has passed, plant something in their memory, or think of ways you are going to celebrate the person on their birthday or other holidays.

 

Losing someone close to you is never easy. Bevis Funeral Home is here for you and your child during this difficult time. Click here for more grief and healing resources that may help your family on your healing journey.

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