When someone in the family has a life-threatening illness, the whole family is impacted by the many changes, the concerns and the unknown. Adults may choose to avoid talking to children about the illness to protect them from pain and distress. However, when children are not informed, they often feel excluded, alone and isolated. It’s important to consider that children will feel something is going on in their family even when they are not told. They may even think that they have caused the anxiety and unsettled state of their family.
We all grieve in our own unique way and have different needs as we experience the death of someone close to us.
Children grieve differently than adults. They do not have the capacity to deal with intense emotions continuously like adults. Instead, children grieve in doses, alternating between times of play and intense emotions. A child’s age, developmental stage, and experiences determine their understanding of death and ability to cope with the death of a loved one.
When a child or teen has experienced the death of someone in their lives, the thought of going back to school may often bring additional challenges. There are a number of things parents can to do help their children feel safe and give them a sense of stability.
For some families the right support may be individual or family counselling during a life-threatening illness or after a death; for others it may be attending a structured support group. We have also heard from many parents that they would appreciate brief, concrete, direct and accessible information as they navigate new situations with their grief and their children’s grief. Our new Lunch & Learns Series is designed to meet these needs.