GRIEF AND GRIEVING
Young children need help in order to make sense of a death in the family. A child does not know how to ask for help. A little girl shocked her father when she asked; “Daddy, who will bake my birthday cake now that Mom is dead?” Her father was appalled until a therapist explained that the child was expressing her fear and sorrow in a normal four-year-old way.
Quite often one hears a parent say the following to a young child; “You will be the death of me.” A young child cannot grasp the fact that these words are not meant literally. That child might even take the blame when a parent dies, even if the cause of death was accidental.
Children need to express emotions like anger or relief, especially if the deceased was not the most popular person in the child’s life. If death is not discussed openly, the child might feel that he/she is to blame.
Visitors to a house after a death, might not focus on the children or even on the teenagers there, wrongly assuming that they are getting sufficient attention from other relatives. All they need is someone to sit next to them; maybe hug them or hold their hands.
At the time of David’s death, our children did not have the same consciousness of life experience as we had, and I am not sure whether they knew how much and for how long their brother’s death would affect their lives.