16-year-olds should mourn the separation

How children mourn The pain comes in spurts


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Children grieve differently than adults - in sudden violent attacks. After that everything seems fine again. But this is often not the case. Parents have to be very patient.

Status: 06/21/2016 | archive

Only at the age of nine or ten can children even realize that death means the irretrievable end of life and that their own life will also end. Before that, children usually deal with the subject of death with interest, but objectively, because they are convinced that dead animals and people will be resurrected at some point.

Some adults also find it strange that their child does not seem to show any reaction to a death message at first, but then suddenly reacts violently. When children grieve, they do it in sudden bursts:

"In children and adolescents, the grief processes are not as continuous as in adults. They grieve in installments, as it were. All of a sudden, grief breaks out of them, throws them down weeping, and just as suddenly they can jump up again and laugh away Children and adolescents from overuse. "

Gertrud Ennulat, educator and author (1941-2008)

Should children go to the funeral with you?

Many parents want to save their children the confrontation with death altogether and protect them from it. As a matter of principle, they do not take their children to funerals. But that's the wrong approach. At least older children, i.e. children who have reached primary school age, should not be deprived of the opportunity to personally say goodbye to loved ones. Grief counselor Chris Paul as well as many pastors and pastors advocate allowing children and young people to attend funerals. Before doing this, children should be told in advance how the funeral service and funeral will take place, who will come to the funeral and that afterwards one usually goes to an inn to have coffee together.

Paul says you can let children say goodbye in the coffin or leave memorabilia in the coffin. The prerequisite for this: the child decides for himself at any time what to do and what to leave off. In addition, adults must accompany the child intensively.

A separate farewell ritual for smaller children

Sitting still for a long time, speeches that are difficult to understand at funeral ceremonies stress smaller children and thus also their parents: parents should better celebrate a separate farewell ritual with the child, for example after the actual funeral. With a picture or flower you have painted yourself, you take the child to the grave and let them say goodbye in peace.

Answer honestly when children ask about death

Death on tv

According to a Swedish study from 2004, 40 percent of six to ten year old children believe that people always die from murder.

Children want to understand what happened and ask for explanations. Answer the children's questions in simple language; you can leave out stressful details. In any case, don't lie.

Mourning together comforts.

"Grandma fell asleep peacefully." If your child is younger, you can scare them with a sentence like this - of falling asleep yourself. And besides, this sentence is simply a lie: Grandma did not fall asleep because she never wakes up and she never comes back. The following formulations should also be avoided when delivering news of death to children: "... has left us", "... has brought God to him", "... has gone home".

Sincerity and example are important in grieving

What children especially need when they are confronted with the death of loved ones for the first time are not only honesty but also a role model. Parents and grandparents should show children and grandchildren without a guilty conscience that they are infinitely sad themselves. That they have to cry. Only in this way do children experience and learn that it is okay to grieve, to show feelings and to shed tears.

When does my child need professional help with grief?

Parents should pay close attention to changes in behavior in grieving children: If the child withdraws completely, often behaves aggressively or completely loses the fun of hobbies or socializing with friends, it may be that professional help from a psychologist or a grief counselor is necessary .
Source: Pediatricians online

Children have to learn to grieve

Children learn from role models: Parents should allow feelings.

Children still have to learn to grieve - and they do this by orienting themselves towards adults, according to educator Gertrud Ennulat. Children have very fine antennae for when the mood and behavior of the adults around them do not match. So it is the wrong way to suppress your own grief as a mother or father. They are allowed to cry in front of their children and also together with their children.

Some children withdraw, while others live out their feelings such as anger and aggression uncompromisingly. This can be very irritating for adults who are grieving themselves and cause problems in the family.

"The angry child does not fit into our image of the grieving child. Tears and a tearful face, being quiet and withdrawn correspond much more to our expectations. But the anger arises as a counterforce to the experience of total powerlessness."

Gertrud Ennulat

Let yourself and your child help you and your child in such a case - for example from a psychologist or a trained grief counselor.

Music therapy for grieving children

The LMU Munich has been offering music therapy for children and young people suffering from complicated grief since 2008: "When grief doesn't fade away ..."

Chat and forum for grieving children and young people

The Nicolaidis Foundation has launched its own website for children and young people. There you will find contact to various self-help groups as well as a forum, chats and the opportunity to receive individual advice.

Lacrima - bereavement support for children and adolescents

How do you talk to children about death? The Protestant deacon Tobias Rilling founded the Lacrima initiative in 2002 to accompany children in their grief. It has been under the Johanniter umbrella since 2007.