Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston, Texas. Child care Montessori provider in Champions, The Woodlands, Spring Texas Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston
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Loss is not an experience limited to adults. Children experience loss, too. From their “little losses” - the broken toy, the torn book, starting school, the death of a pet — they can be taught to cope in ways that will make them emotionally healthy adults. When a child in the classroom shares that his pet has died, other children may want to share experiences and feelings concerning the death of their own pets or that granny died. When we listen gently to the children as they grope for words about how they feel, we know that preparation is being made in their hearts to be able to bear greater losses. All children facing losses need to be continually reassured that they will be loved and cared for by at least one significant, trusted adult.

What do we say to a child who is experiencing loss? When a child wants to talk about a loss, here are a few simple things to be done immediately.

• Tell the child “I’m sorry.” Many times adults ignore mourning children for fear of adding to their pain. Yet being ignored causes hurt, confusion, and wrong ideas. Let your child know that you care, that you are attentive, and that you acknowledge the very real feeling he has.

• As soon as you can, offer to listen to the child. If it’s not a time you can immediately focus your full attention on her, at least stop for a second, respond reflectively, and give comfort. You are modeling for this child how to be sympathetic, and this learning will come back when the time comes for this child to be sensitive to others and their losses. Then don’t forget. Revisit the story when you can both pay attention.

• Be honest with your child. Avoid making up stories to protect her. Make sure she understands that she was not responsible for the death. Don’t use words like “got sick and died”. How will she feel the next time you or she gets sick? Don’t refer to death as “sleeping”. How will she feel when bedtime comes? “Uncle John passed” is not clear. Susie “passed” the fifth grade.

• Give your child an opportunity to say goodbye. If it’s a friend moving, make a little ritual. If it’s a pet that died, have a little funeral. Talk about the loss as a family, and assure your child that nothing can take away treasured memories.

• Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.

• Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar patterns.

There are many books for children that might be helpful where the topic of loss is gently embedded in the text. Local funeral homes can be a wealth of information about dealing with grief in a child, even when it might not affect your immediate family. Being prepared is a good position to take on this issue.