I found an excellent website for helping kids deal with grieving over life’s losses/transitions.
Here is the address: http://www.griefspeaks.com/index.html
Lisa Athan is the Executive Director of GRIEF SPEAKS. The following is only some of her wonderful advice/wisdom. Explore her site for more information on a variety of topics.
“Some children fear acknowledging grief, much like some adults for fear of emotional flooding. Grief is powerful and the emotions felt can be overwhelming. Many choose to avoid thinking or talking about the loss as they worry that if they were to feel fully their grief, they may never stop crying. Children need direct encouragement to express their grief and acknowledge their pain. They need to be reassured by adults that this is a good thing to do. Some children fear disappointing their loved ones by showing their true feelings. Some fear being chastised for crying. It is important for adults in children’s lives to let the children know that all of their feelings will be understood and accepted. Giving children permission to grieve as well as healthy opportunities to express that grief in safe ways is all part of helping children to cope and grow through life’s losses and transitions. Children who learn that feelings are simply feelings and that they don’t have to hide them or feel ashamed or embarrassed by them, are that much better at learning about the life long process of healthy mourning.”
I am listing below the worksheet information that I created for my book. I hope it will help you in any discussions you might have with your child about the grieving process. I hope it proves to be helpful.
GRIEVING THROUGH LOSSES
Have you ever misplaced something very important to you, (like the stuffed animal your
parent gave you when you were young), and had a feeling come over you that you
may never see it again? There is a grieving process that people go through when they
experience a ‘loss’. A loss is something that has happened in your life that has caused
you grief, or sadness, whether on a very small scale, (such as losing your favorite pencil),
or on a grand scale, such as the death of a loved one, or the family pet.
Everyone grieves differently—sometimes you might go through the process very quickly;
sometimes you might get ‘stuck’ on one of the stages; sometimes you might skip one or
more of the stages; and, sometimes it can take years to get to the final stage of grieving.
Often the intensity and duration of the grieving process has to do with how many losses
you’ve already grieved over or how close or special the person or item was to you.
Look over the list of losses below, and check off which ones you have already been
through. Some of them won’t seem like anything to have had to grieve over, but most of
the changes, or new experiences that we go through, whether big or small, can be an
emotional experience. Change is often difficult to go through at first, but can wind up
having some positive effect, after a period of time. For example, you might not want to
move to another neighborhood or city, but in the end you might eventually appreciate
the new friends you’ve made, and the skills you’ve gained, such as being able to make
friends more easily.
______Entering Kindergarten _____Divorce of Parents
______Moving _____Death of a Pet
______Being Bullied _____Loved One’s Addiction*
______Losing a Favorite Item _____My Own Illness or Condition
______Loss of Financial Support _____Loved One’s Illness
______Getting Detention or Suspension _____Poor Test Scores
______Entering Middle School _____Argument With Someone
______Losing a Friend _____Loss of Contact With Parent
_____ Death of a Loved One _____ Being Grounded
List other topics you can think of: _____ _____________________________
_____ _____________________________ _____ _____________________________
*In this case, it is usually the loss of hope that a person will grieve over.
THE STAGES OF GRIEVING
Here are some of the stages of grieving. See if you can relate to them, as you think
about some of the losses you have already experienced. Then, you will have a chance
on the next page to analyze how you grieved over one of your losses.
1. Shock. When you first encounter a loss, or even the anticipation of a loss, you might
feel numb inside. You might cry a little, or you might wonder why you can’t cry.
2. Denial. This often happens right along with the first stage. You don’t and won’t believe
the sad event is happening, or going to happen.
3. Anger. A person experiencing a loss often feels that life is unfair. Well, that’s true.
Life isn’t fair. In this stage you probably feel angry that something bad is
happening. During this stage, a person might take his/her anger out on
someone or something else. There’s a term for that, it is called displacement.
Have you ever been so angry that you yelled at someone? Slammed a door?
Hit a pillow? That’s displacement. Anger is one of the stages of grieving that a
person can get stuck on. Sometimes it takes talking with a health professional
to help move through this stage of grieving.
4. Guilt. Sometimes this is called the, “If only….” stage. The person experiencing the
loss might blame himself for not doing more to prevent the situation from ever
happening. It’s normal to feel some guilt, but it is necessary to let it go and
move on. There’s never a good reason to beat yourself up over a situation. It
doesn’t do any good. Things happen. No one can control everything.
5. Depression. This is another one of the stages that someone can get stuck on. The person
might need help from a health professional, and maybe even medication,
since serious depression can actually change brain chemistry. It’s normal to
feel sad about bad things that happen in your life. But, it can be harmful to
hang onto those sad feelings for an extended period of time. Talking to an
adult you trust can help get you through this stage. Some people find it helpful
to journal about their feelings. Finally, time can help the pain go away, and the
sadness can be replaced with fond memories, and a new outlook on life.
6. Tears. Perhaps there have already been some tears along the way, but this is
more like, “The Big Cry.” Sometimes it is in the form of a scream or an angry
outburst. And, as with the other stages, it can be skipped altogether. If you do
experience this stage, it can be quite a feeling of relief, letting out all those
pent up feelings.
7. Growth. At this point you accept the loss and gain resiliency, the ability to bounce
back from future losses more easily.
ANALYZING A LOSS
It can be very healing to try to go over something that has happened in your life; to look more
closely at how you went through it; and to look at what you gained from that experience. Try
to think of one of the losses you checked off earlier, and write it out below. Then, try to describe
how or even if you went through each of the stages of grieving. You might also want to talk with
your parent or guardian about a loss he or she has had, and ask that person to share the various
feelings he or she went through while grieving over the loss. It can be a learning experience, and
a bonding experience for the both of you.
MY LOSS: ______________________________________________________________________
Did I feel numb? How did I react to the news? ______________________________________
Did I face the facts, or did I deny this was happening at first? _ ________________________
Did I have any anger? Did I take it out on anyone or anything? Describe. _______________
Did I blame myself at all? If I did, what did I say to myself? ____________________________
Was I sad? How did I act? What did I feel? What did I say? ____________________________
Did I have a big cry, scream or outburst of any kind? How did it feel? _ _________________
Did I finally accept the loss? ________What did I gain from having gone through this