I'm sharing my experience of childhood loss, with ideas for how you can support a grieving child in your life.
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I’ll never forget a blustery October night in 2003. That was the night that my father died of a massive heart attack in his sleep at the age of 46. I was the eldest child, at just twelve years old.
Shortly afterward, my grandmother was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma, passing away in hospice care in 2006. My family was now reeling from multiple losses, and I struggled for many years with my unprocessed grief, simply because we were all just trying to survive. I often felt so alone.
I wish I had known that childhood loss is surprisingly common.
1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.
- Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying
For many young kids, the death of a grandparent is the first major loss that they will experience in their lives. It’s a timely topic, because the current pandemic has greatly affected the older generation, but in doing so, it has also impacted the younger generations. Grief is a big and complex emotion, and for a child, it can be especially difficult to understand and express what they’re thinking and feeling.
The question on my mind was, “How can we help kids express their grief in healthy ways?” That’s what I hope this book will teach. I want kids to understand that:
up-and-down feelings are normal
it’s okay to be sad sometimes
grief is most healthy when it’s shared with others
“Children's Grief Awareness Day seeks to bring attention to the fact that often support can make all the difference in the life of a grieving child.
It provides an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of the painful impact that the death of a loved one has in the life of a child, an opportunity to make sure that these children receive the support they need.”
THE HELP I WISH I HAD BACK THEN
I never really got to process and work through my losses when I was young. So it was during my early adulthood that I had to work hard through therapy, ministry, and introspection in order to find healing. I wanted to write the kid’s book that I wish I had available during that rough time. “Lulu Faces Loss And Finds Encouragement” was written and illustrated straight from my heart.
Drawing from the experience of watching my grandmother battle cancer, the book is about the close grandmother-granddaughter relationship that I enjoyed with my grandma.
The story follows eight-year-old Lulu, who watches her beloved grandma grow more and more weak. At the same time, she learns how “encouragement” can help people find hope and gain strength. Young readers are invited to follow along as Lulu navigates her first major loss, walks through the first few months of grief, and yet still finds encouragement along the way. The book is best suited for children ages five to nine, and it even includes instructions for a craft project just like Lulu makes in the story.
SUPPORT A GRIEVING CHILD IN YOUR LIFE
Knowing that it's ok to be sad, and it's ok to talk about a lost loved one can make a world of difference to a young griever.
There are so many ways to communicate your care and presence for them! Here are just a few ideas:
Consider giving Lulu Faces Loss And Finds Encouragement as a gift. More than that, offer to sit down with the child and read it together.
Use the book to have an age-appropriate conversation about grief and loss. Use this free book discussion guide to help.
Engage in this hands-on therapeutic art activity to help even very young ones process loss. Instructions and video included.
Another way to help a grieving child is by participating with them in Children’s Grief Awareness Day (CGAD) events, going on all month:
Together, create a virtual blue butterfly (symbol of CGAD) and dedicate it to a lost loved one. Browse through the virtual butterfly garden so that the child understands they are not alone.
Attend the virtual CGAD conference on November 18, 2021. View the schedule ahead of time so you know which presentations would most benefit you or your child.
Comment: What age were you when you first experienced loss? Do you know a young person who's lost a loved one?
“Lulu Faces Loss And Finds Encouragement” is available as an ebook or paperback on Amazon. To learn more about the book and to find book-related related resources, visit https://www.danicatheartist.com/lulu-faces-loss.