Writing a blog requires that I pay attention to all the opportunities that I can find to learn something new about children and how they grieve. I have said many times, that those I learn the most from are the bereaved families that I meet. This would also be true for parents who are learning about their own children's grief. How to listen when you yourself are grieving and trying to find your own way in this new world you are now living in. Many children worry about upsetting you if they see you cry,and turn away. The feel that by saying anything they are protecting you. As a result you don't always know what they are thinking. They need to know that it is alright to be sad. They also need to know that you may be sad for sometime to come, and that you could understand that they might feel the same way. That crying is not something to be afraid of. They may need to hear that sometimes it helps to talk about the person who died; to remember together even if you cry. You might remind them that you will work on sharing and being supportive. There could be times when it is possible to do that without talking about it.
Sometimes you may feel that you need help. It can become important to look around in your community to see what program might be there that could be helpful at such times. I am thinking of a program where grieving children meet each other and where you can meet grieving parents. It is becoming more and more apparent to me and to many others that meeting others with whom we share a common experience is very valuable.I have written before, in previous blogs, about a place called The Children's Room in Arlington, MA. A good deal of what I know, I have learned from the parents I talk with there. I have learned that meeting others who also grieve makes them feel less alone. They find others with whom they can really share their fears, their sadness, their grief, and feel understood without saying too much. In turn they can reciprocate and be helpful to others in the same way. My favorite quote is from an 8 year old who came to the Children's Room. When asked why it helped he said "I don't feel so alone anymore".
How to find such a program has been made easier lately. Centers for grieving children, with many different names, have formed an organization. It is called The National Alliance for Grieving Children. They have a web site: www.NationalAllianceforGrievingChildren.org I did not realize how many groups there are in so many different parts of the country. Look for a program near you. They are not all exactly alike. The ones I know best are patterned after the Dougy Center In Portland, Ore. Find one that looks right to you and visit to see if it will suit your needs. I would also recommend that anyone, concerned with helping grieving families, therapists and counselors included, might find visiting such a center very valuable. It provides another perspective on what "help" can look like.
Please write and let me and other readers know what you have found and what you think.