Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Good Grief

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Good Grief

Article excerpt

When Nikki and Andrew's close family friend died of cancer, they had to decide whether their daughter, Eileen, who was 7 at the time, should attend the funeral. Eileen was very close with their friend's daughter.

Nikki and Andrew decided to tell their daughter, as simply and honestly as possible, what the funeral would be like. They explained how a funeral is a way for a family to say goodbye to a loved one and also to celebrate the person's entrance into eternal life.

"Eileen said she wanted to go. At the funeral, she saw the grief of her friend as well as other family members," Nikki says. "I had been tempted to leave her at home, so I could deal with my own grief alone. But walking the path with my daughter helped me process, too."

In the midst of their own grief and pain, parents must also determine how best to approach the situation with their children. While there is no one-size-fits-all way to handle grief, there are dements that all parents can keep in mind.

Children need to take part in the goodbye.

Often, especially for children over 8, this means going to the wake or funeral. If a funeral does not feel appropriate for your child, though, you can create another ritual at home. Gather the family, light a candle, pass around a photo, and talk about memories you have of the person. Close with a prayer.

It is important for children to be able to cry, talk about the loved one, and receive comfort. Whether this is done at a funeral or at home, the child will recognize that time is being set aside to remember, to be sad, and to honor the person's life on earth and their continued life with God.

When a 6-year-old friend of their children died of cancer, Nancy and Scott brought their two children, about the same age, to the funeral. "We thought it was important for them to be part of it and see people being sad," Scott says. …

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