Guiding a Child Through Parent-Loss
Losing a parent is a profound and challenging experience, especially for children. The loss of her beloved father forever changed my daughter’s world when she was just 10 years old. The emotional road she has traveled in seven years has been a rollercoaster ride,
filled with moments of both strength and vulnerability.
In the immediate aftermath of her father’s passing, my daughter was confronted with a whirlwind of emotions. As her mom, I had the daunting task of giving her the sad news.
I made a decision, right before his passing, of allowing her to visit the hospital and say goodbye. At that point, her dad was already in a deep coma, but I believe he waited for her visit to finally let go. This move on my part, helped her some with the closure and
the devastating truth to follow.
The realization that her dad was no longer physically present brought waves of sorrow, anger, and frustration. The unfairness of losing her father at such a young age and the dreams and milestones they would never share together stirred a fiery storm within me as her mother.
Yet amidst the pain, as her mother, my promise to stand by, comfort, and support her in this process was unwavering. Being a parent coach and later completing my certification in grief counseling proved to be invaluable. I found myself constantly reminding her that healing is lifelong.
Strategies to Support a Grieving Child
In this heartfelt article, I aim to share our personal experience and strategies that I embraced to support my daughter and provide a sense of hope amidst our grief.
During the early stages of our grief journey, I emphasized the importance of being open to signs from her father. This practice allowed my daughter to feel a continued connection with her dad, providing comfort and reassurance. She is a true believer that her father’s spirit continues to guide us in unexpected ways. She will go out of her way now to point out specific incidents that prove this belief is true.
Second, to keep her father’s memory alive, we frequently visited places that held special significance for our family. At times, it was a park, a favorite restaurant, or a vacation spot (in our case, Disney). Returning to these locations allowed my daughter to reminisce and feel a sense of connection to her dad. These visits became cherished opportunities for fostering a deeper understanding of her father.
Third, we created opportunities to honor her dad’s memory. For example, we established an annual tradition of visiting his grave site, creating an art project, buying a gift, or lighting candles on significant dates such as birthdays, Father’s Day, and anniversaries. These rituals served as a way to express our emotions, remember her father, and provide a sense of acknowledgement of the ongoing impact he had on our lives.
Fourth, I always encourage my daughter to be open and honest about her feelings and love for her dad. This has been crucial in helping my daughter navigate her grief. I created a safe space where she felt comfortable sharing her thoughts, feelings, and
Joining Support Groups
Fifth, together we joined support groups specifically tailored to children who have lost a parent. The group provided a space for my daughter to connect with peers who shared similar experiences. It also allowed her to see that she was not alone in her grief and
that there was a community of support available to her.
The emotional road she and I traveled and still travel is not easy, but every emotion and experience shaped her into the resilient young woman she is today. She carries her father’s memory in her heart, knowing that her father’s love and guidance will forever be with her.
In sharing our story of loss, healing, and hope, my hope is to encourage others to embark on their own journeys of honoring their loved ones’ legacies. It is a path that may be filled with challenges and pain, but it is also a path that leads to growth, resilience, and ultimately, a deeper connection to those we hold dear. May we all find the strength to carry our loved ones in our hearts and inspire others to do the same.
Visit Dr. Mankes’ website: www.drcarolmankes.com
Read more from Dr. Mankes: Positive Attitude and Faith in Grief – Open to Hope