Understanding children's grief and finding teachable moments
Chapter 1: How children grieve
Grief often reappears for children many times as they mature. Sometimes it appears in new ways as they:
- Begin to understand the finality of death.
- Realize that they and everyone important to them will die.
- Are faced with special rites of passage without the person who has died.
- For example, graduations, religious and cultural ceremonies, puberty and moving out of home.
Asher's storyAsher was 2 when his mom died. When he was 4, he was often upset as he watched his friends' moms pick them up from nursery school. He wanted his mom to pick him up too. His dad gently explained that Asher also had a mom. She really wanted to stay alive and pick him up every day, but sadly she died. That's why his poppa picks him up instead. Asher is 6 now. He often feels sad because his older brothers remember their mom and he doesn't. His dad and brothers agree it's sad he doesn't have many memories since he was so little when she died. He feels better when they tell him stories about their mom and remember how she used to push Asher on the swing and tuck him into bed.
Ava's storyAva was 6 when her dad died. When she was 12, her hockey team won the city championship. Her mom was very surprised that Ava wasn't excited. In fact, she seemed very sad. As they talked, Ava explained she missed her dad. She wished he was there to be part of the win.
Matteo's storyMatteo was 10 when his brother, Luca, died. Three years later, when his family went on their first vacation since his death, Matteo seemed sullen even though he'd been excited leading up to the trip. Sitting in the car with just his parents, Matteo felt very lonely. He knew the trip wouldn't be nearly as much fun without Luca.
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