The passing of a spouse is difficult for many reasons. Not only is there an avalanche of feelings that you have to cope with, but you are now left to handle financial issues, other life chores, and many times, children to guide through the grieving process as well.
Now, as both a parent and grieving spouse, you are responsible for not only your own bereavement, but also helping your children with grief. This is, without question, a heavy task. At Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, we offer a number of grief resources to help your family navigate this difficult process.
“The mourning part is an oscillating experience,” says Vickie Mears, Director of Grief Support Services in Kansas City, MO. “None of use want to sit in our negative emotions forever.”
On one end of this oscillation, we experience the feelings of loss. On the other end, we adapt. We want to have time to feel, think, express, and react – with healthy distractions. This is true for adults and children, but children need more guidance in understanding that – that it’s okay just get away and engage in something else for a bit.
“Normalizing the experience is a very important thing for children,” Vickie says. “Going back to routine can be important. Someone might think that going back to a routine of playing baseball is disrespectful. But those routines are actually really critical to bringing a sense of security and a sense of control.”
Here are five simple ways to help your child get back in a routine, or maybe even just find a brief distraction:
1. Find things to do around the house.
If the kids want to stay inside for the day, there are things you can do right in your home to keep everyone busy. Grab some paint brushes and get the family together to paint a bedroom or bathroom wall. If the backyard is looking big and empty, take the kids to the store for some fruit, vegetable, and flower seed to work on growing a garden. Additionally, you can have them assist with your increased workload by having them help with daily chores around the house such as washing the dishes or cleaning out the garage.
2. Sign up for a class.
Going to a class together is another great way to engage your children after a spouse passes. An example of a fun class to try out is pottery, where both the you and your child can sit at a wheel and create something together.
Other similar types of classes include painting, self-defense, cooking, and swimming. If you simply need some time to yourself, enrolling your children in these types of classes can be helpful for both you and the child as it allows them to be productive with peers of their age.
3. Discover new places.
Taking a short trip together is a great way to enjoy the company of your family. Traveling can be a catalyst for change. As such, it can help a family move forward when they return home. Being given that neutral space to acknowledge and accept your emotions freely, your family can come to acceptance as a unit.
If work, finances, or other circumstances don’t line up for a short getaway, Crossroads Kids Camp recently held it’s second annual installment in Excelsior Springs, MO, offering another healthy grieving space for children. Similar camps for children to find comfort and support with their peers are offered by a number of organizations all across the country.
4. Volunteer together.
Here’s a great philosophy to live by:
“The best way to find your own smile is to help someone else find theirs.”
Finding ways to give back to the community and impact the people around you offers one of the most instant and sincere sources of gratification. Help raise money for an important cause. Offer your time to a local food bank. The opportunities for volunteering are endless.
5. Make time to talk.
Staying productive and engaged with the aforementioned activities can be useful when helping with your children’s grieving on top of your own. At the same time, it is important to remember that solely staying engaged and busy will not result in healthy grieving. Finding time to sit down as a family to share thoughts and feelings is an equally important activity for you and your kids.
At Crossroads, we understand that having these conversations and working to move forward can be very difficult. Promoting and assisting in healthy grieving for our patients’ families is a top priority. You can learn more about this and our grief recovery program by visiting our website or giving us a call at 1-888-564-3405.
- Good Grief: Healthy Ways to Help a Child Mourn Their Sibling
- How to Tell Your Child You Have a Terminal Illness
- Children and the Grieving Process
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