Google Analytics

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Through a Child's Eyes.

Out of the mouth of babes!  Children all to often say the most unexpected things, and what they generally say is right on the mark, which leaves some adults reeling.  They are a lot more perceptive than some adults give them credit for.

A mom was sharing with a group of us how her eldest son was complaining, he felt embarrassed when his mom would display signs of affection in public, he didn't even want her smiling at him if others kids were around.  Of course none of us parents are ever ready for this, we think our children will want to be hugged or kissed for ever.  So she began to remind him that he only had one mom and if she wasn't around he would really miss her and so on.  Out of the blue the youngest son piped up, saying well isn't the Blessed Mary our mother too.  She didn't know what to say, what can you say.  Kids sometimes cut you to the quick.  

When Rachel died my brother and sister-in-law knew they had to tell their children, so they called them over and began to tell them what had happened.  My nephew listened and then simply told them that he had known, he was 5 years old.  They asked him how he knew, and he said, he had heard everyone talking and even though they had not mentioned that she had died, he had taken his cues from their demeanor and put it all together.  

All too often adults try to shield children from tragic events, believing they are protecting them.  My parents, thankfully, had not felt this way and my brothers and I we kept abreast of everything that was happening around us.  To the best of their ability, they would try to answer our questions, explain what was happening, and why things were done this or that way.  To their credit, when I think of my childhood, I realize they would also listen to us, our comments, our reactions and they would take their cues from that, responding to our needs.  

Most experts will tell you to take your cue from the child, they will definitely let you know what they need.  I have learned that the simple answer is usually the best, if they need more they will continue to ask.  When it comes to dealing with the death of a loved one, involve the child as much as possible.  Allow them to be part of the planning, the rituals and answer their questions without going into too much detail.  Of course this depends on the age of the child.  If you don't tell them they will ask someone else or come up with their own explanations. 

As I watch my grandson, I am reminded of how much they learn from the people around them.  I can already see certain characteristics and how he responds to the people in his life.  The candid observation, looking for the familiar and trying to figure out those around him.  So even at a very young age babies and toddlers know who they can trust, who will let them do what they want and who they should go to when they want to feel secure and have their needs met.  

Children, like adults, need a sense of closure, they need to be allowed to say their good byes to grandparents, a parent, sibling, aunts or uncles, and so on.  It may take a while before they realize that they will not be coming home, that they can't go to grandma's, etc.  Like us, they too go through the different stages of grief.  I recently read an article about 9/11 children and how so many of them still waited for their loved one to come home for the first few years.  How everything seemed so unreal to them and how they felt as if they were the only ones going through this.  Fortunately for many of the children directly affected by the 9/11 tragedies, there was help, they were encouraged to participate in events and support groups with other children, who were dealing with the same feelings, emotions and loss.

So if you have children in your lives who may have had to deal with the death of a loved one, are currently dealing with it or may have to face the death of a family member due to illness, be open with them.  Allow them to share what they are feeling, let them know they can talk about whatever is on their minds.  If you are not comfortable doing this, find a support group for them, there are a few that can help.  Rainbows is just one that comes to mind, this is an international  grief support group for children.  For those who have lost a parent or family member in the military, TAPS also offers a children's support system. Hospice and Visiting Nurses Association, also can provide help.  Check with your child's physician, your church or local hospitals, they may have a list of what is available in your community.  You may even find helpful resources for yourself in the process.

We all suffer through the death of someone we love, we all may handle it in our own way and react differently, but we grieve.  Whether we are an adult, teenager or a child, we all experience the sorrow, the pain and uncertainty of death and it leaves us confused and frightened. 

We all need to know we are loved, we all need to know that someone cares and most importantly we need to know that love will keep us going.  

There is a beautiful quote that reminds us:

"They whom we love and lost
are no longer where they were before.
They are now wherever we are."
Author: St. John Chrystostom
Blessings! and until we meet again.

No comments:

Post a Comment