Don’t Deny Your Child Their Grief

Why not helping your child with their grief may be the nicest thing you can do for them.

A mom asked me for advice on how to help their child cope with grief. Their uncle had died and they were very upset.  My answer, don’t.  Don’t help them. Don’t try to alleviate their pain or make the pain less.

Grief is incredibly painful. It’s very hard to watch your child struggle with it. But if you try to prevent them from experiencing it because it’s too painful to watch them hurt, you deprive them of one of the most important learning experiences of their life.  And that’s the lesson of how to deal with grief and disappointment.

Think about it. The only way to learn how to cope with grief is to experience it. You can’t learn this through a book.  If you allow your child to experience their grief and you don’t do anything to take their grief away, here is what will happen. They will eventually get through it. On their own.

It may seem like grief will last forever, but it doesn’t. They will cry, plead, bargain and go through all the stages of grief. But if you just acknowledge their grief and allow them to experience it, they will eventually move on to acceptance. And it is at that point that they start feeling less pain and they will start re-engaging with the business of life. After all, there are playgrounds to play at and friends to hang out with and movies to see and games to play. You can’t grieve forever unless you make a concerted effort to do so.

This is true of many things. The more we fight the inevitable, the more miserable we are. When we fight the reality of death, we experience grief. When we accept death, we feel sad, but eventually get on with the business of living with our loss. . 

When kids learn that they can experience the intense emotional pain of grief and survive, they learn a very important lesson. They can survive this!  If you take away their pain for them, you prevent them from learning this lesson. 

Kids who know they can be resilient even if the face of death never need to fear grief again. They never need to stick with bad relationships because they aren’t afraid to experience the grief of a breakup because they know they can handle it and be ok, eventually. 

So don’t help your child with their grief. Let them experience it and grow stronger as a result. 

If you are looking for more help and resources - get my book - The Humanist Approach to Grief and Grieving at:

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