With over four decades in the medical profession, Dr. Sammie I. Long most recently served as the clinical assistant professor of radiology at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile. Today, Dr. Sammie I. Long is writing a children’s book exploring grief in children. For those who have a child going through the grieving process, here are three strategies that may help.
1. Be honest. As difficult as it can be to have a discussion about death with a child, it’s imperative to be open. In order for a child to open up and turn to an adult for support, they have to feel that the adult is trustworthy. Depending on the child’s age, explain what has happened in a simple way that they may understand. Make it a discussion, not a lecture.
2. Stick to a routine. While a death can easily disrupt a child’s sense of normalcy, keeping to a routine schedule, including school, recreation, and social outings, will help young people feel grounded and in control. This also reassures a child that things will go back to normal in time.
3. Engage children in creative activities. Though activities can be used as a distraction, they can also be used to express emotions. Read books and watch movies dealing with loss, and ask the child how he or she feels afterwards. Drawing pictures is another way to get a child to open up, if speaking doesn’t come easily.