It is not uncommon for people to share stories of grief and loss. To this day it never ceases to amaze me the number of children who live in fear after a death of a loved one. Fear due to not understanding what has happened or how the death occurred.
Children are sometimes sheltered from the truth and in many cases for good reasons but none the less, children create in their mind a story of what “really” happened.
Here is a scenario to be aware of. A grandfather aged 62 dies of a heart attack in the restaurant. His grandson aged 7 hears bits and pieces of information from family members and listening to people talk at the funeral. Can you picture a young boy listening?
Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. Heart attack, restaurant, died, gone, tears and sadness; how does a young boy put this together and make sense of it all?
Long story made short, the child does not put it together and make sense of anything from an intellectual perspective. Going to a restaurant means having a meal, eating food and enjoying yourself, but if you died at the restaurant; what did you eat?
Being a young boy and not understanding, his imagination created a story around his grandfather’s death…it must have been something he ate for lunch! Hmmmm, for four years the young boy tried to figure out what his grandfather ate. The young boy wanted to make sure he did not eat the same food and die.
Back to putting yourself in the child’s shoes; what must it have been like for the child to keep silent and try to figure this out?
At aged 11 the young boy took the opportunity to speak with his grandmother and got the correct information in an age appropriate manner. The child was relieved and then able to function differently without worry of eating a specific food.
I know grief and loss are difficult to deal with, but remember the children are listening even if you do not see them. Children literally interpret what you say and remember for years to come.
All my best
Barbara Gillett Saunders