If They're Old Enough to Love, They're Old Enough to Grieve

by Amy L. Silva Rigtrup

Children. They take in everything and are affected by the world around them. When someone they love dies, they feel many of the emotions we feel as adults. The difference is, they are feeling this grief amidst countless confusions, questions and assumptions as they are simultaneously trying to make sense of everything as the grow. Even babies notice a change, wether they notice the absence of someone they regularly see or are just picking up on the emotional dynamics surrounding them.

It can be very hard as a parent or family member of a grieving child to even figure out where to start in regards to explaining death and the funeral process - especially because you are most likely grieving yourself. Above all, as Mr. Rogers said, "Anything human is mentionable and if it is mentionable it is manageable." There are not many things more human in life than death itself. Every child is different, every situation is different, but like everything that comes along in life that children question, death can also provide a meaningful and important opportunity for a teaching moment.

Children of all ages truly have an impressive capacity for understanding because their minds work so rapidly. The brilliant minds of children can work against them if they are left to piece together things they don't understand without any guidance. The healthiest way to help them process is to provide them a foundation based in honesty and reality. The reality is better than their imagination of something worse or feelings of abandonment if not told.

Today on The Silva Lining, my guest was Deanna Upchurch, Grief Support & Volunteer Programs Specialist at Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and Adjunct Professor at Bristol Community College. We discussed various options for explaining death to children, including them in elements of the funeral process and resources for specialized grief support.

For more information about Camp BraveHeart, the free two-day camp event for kids ages 4-17 that are grieving the loss of loved one CLICK HERE, or call (401) 415-4610 for registration. This year's Camp BraveHeart will be held on August 20th & 21st at Camp Aldergate in North Scituate, RI.

Visit Silva-Faria Funeral Home's website for access to the Grief Library with specific advice and guidelines for helping children with grief as well as many other targeted grief and support situations.

Looking for support? Have any questions? Email me anytime at amy@thesilvalining.org

The Silva Lining is thankful for our wonderful sponsor, St. Anthony of Padua Credit Union. We are proud to be sponsored by such an incredible bank, that in an age of conglomerate banks treating people like numbers, maintains a relationship with its members based on trust, friendly service and loyalty. With competitive rates for savings accounts and various loans, St. Anthony of Padua can handle all of your financial needs. Convenient online banking and more information at www.stanthonyofpaduafcu.com