Imagine the two most difficult things that you could possibly go through happening simultaneously. Parenting a child, and the grief of losing a child. Now imagine parenting a surviving child after they lose their sibling.
We already know that every child has their own unique needs. But surviving children need unique care to work through their grief, something it’s challenging to support them through because the parent is sitting in their own grief.
And while there are many grief support groups out there for both parents and children, they’re usually not enough. These support groups can help work through emotions, but that’s usually where the support ends. There are so many nuances to grief and life during, through, and after grief. And parents need help in working through the day-to-day trials and tribulations that happen as the surviving child hits milestones that their sibling never had a chance to experience.
I think many of us think of grief as an isolated event that happens and then eventually goes away. I don’t think grief ever ends, and children can feel guilt over experiencing things their siblings never will.
Thankfully, there are people out there who create the resources they need and share them with others, like Michele Benyo who I recently talked to on my podcast.
She shared three tips for how to support grieving children:
- Take care of yourself and invite conversation with your children.
- Be honest with the child, including using the right terminology around dying.
- Honor the grief by recognizing that the grief exists. And grief might be losing a pet, a parent or grandparent, a home.
Listen in as Michele talks about her experience and what she did to help her daughter when her son died after a years-long illness.
Michele helps us understand more about how children grieve and why language and vocabulary is so important in this process.
I can’t imagine the heartbreak Michele experienced, but I’m grateful that she chose to share her wisdom with others. And whether you’re a parent or an educator or both, you’re sure to have some great takeaways from our conversation.