Julie Lockhart: Helping Kids After Parent Loss

While at the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley connected with Julie Lockhart, who operates a non-profit in southern Oregon called Winter Spring. This organization helps parents tend to their children after a parent loss. Father loss comes with a host of issues. Kids who lose a father lose a sense of their identity. The remaining parent or guardians don’t know how to deal with that kind of grief. Lockhart recommends honesty and openness to what your child is experiencing. Children grieve in doses, and often try to protect the remaining parent.

Kids often don’t show their grief, although they may be grieving. It’s scary to see a parent that sad. A lot of the parents say that the kids don’t want them to cry, often because they’re afraid. What does it really mean when a parent isn’t strong? Lockhart has three key tips for parents. First, find support and know there are support groups around the country.

Seek Support First

There are online and in-person support groups—one or both might be best for your unique situation. Kids need each other when they’re grieving. Secondly, parents need to understand their own grief and be able to help themselves heal before they can help their kids. Finally, normalizing grief is important because parents, like it or not, are modeling grief behavior for their children. These lessons might stick for the rest of the child’s life.

Father loss is an extremely painful experience, but one that many children have survived. How you, as a caretaker, handle this grief is critical. Children need peer support, a caregiver who’s transparent, and a safe space where they can heal and address their grief in their own ways and on their own timeline.

 

Gloria Horsley

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Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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