Friday, October 5, 2012

Grandparent Grief - Helping Your Grieving Child (part 3 of 3)

Grandparent Grief - Helping Your Grieving Child (part 3 of 3)  Continued from Blog Posting on October 1st, 2012..

~ By Margaret H. Gerner

What Can We Do

 Encourage Talking - Like you, bereaved parents have a strong need to talk about what they think and feel. Encourage talking. Never say, "You shouldn't say that." Allow them to talk about their child and about their child's death.

Allow your Child to Cry - Crying, even sobbing, is healthy and necessary. Repressed tears can lead to a host of physical ailments. Tears are helpful in getting out the pain and releasing pent up stress. Never say, "control yourself." Avoid worrying about what other people will think if your child cries in front of them. Your child is not there to take care of others. Remember, this bout of crying will pass, and while it may disturb you for awhile, your child will feel better. Crying with your child can be therapeutic for both of you.

Talk about your Grandchild - Don't worry that it will make your child cry. You don't remind her of her child. He is on her mind most of the time, anyway. Talking about the child tells her you care. If she cries, she is crying because her child is dead, not because you brought it up. Actually, the tears you may help to precipitate can be good for her.

Listen to your Bereaved Child - The greatest gift you can give your child is a listen. Few bereaved parents have someone who will listen to stories about their child or to how guilty or angry they feel. You can be that listener. Even if you have not had open communication with your child up to now, you can change that. One of the most talked-about subjects in groups of young bereaved parents is the lack of understanding from their parents. If you really listen, you'll understand. Your child needs you to listen and needs you terribly.

Non-judgmental listening. Our generation has been taught to:  "Control" ourselves, keep feelings inside, that the person who doesn't talk about the loss of a loved one and who doesn't cry is doing "well". These ideas are wrong, and certainly not helpful. We now know that suppressed grief is unhealthy, both emotionally and physically.

At the same time, we have been taught to love, to help others, to grow and adjust. We've been taught to be creative and try new things. You can use these positive teachings in listening to and loving your child.  A lot of what your child may say and feel will seem irrational. Just putting these things into words helps them to realize how illogical these thought may be. Just let them speak and discover for themselves.

Physical support is important. you can certainly help your child in this respect if you live close by. The fatigue that is part of grief is debilitating. In many cases your child is maintaining a full time job as well as keeping a home. Many have surviving children to care for as well. Help with laundry, cooking meals, shopping, running errands. But ask first. Having someone suddenly take over your household can only add to the stress.

Take the surviving children for a day or afternoon. This will give your bereaved child some time. the grandchildren might enjoy it, too. This gives them an opportunity to be away from the constant sadness that is likely to permeate their home and have a day with a good grandparent. When they are with you, if they want to talk about their dead sibling, by all means, practice your listening skills.

Physically hold your child. We are willing to bet there are times when your child would love to crawl up on "mommie's" or "daddy's" lap to be comforted as in years past. Be aware of this and actually allow it in any way possible. Even a hand on an arm means a lot. The need to be held is stronger during tears or an especially hard time. Many times, your child may not be aware of wanting to be held, but you can't take the initiative, for sons as well as daughters.

The real benefit is that you feel you are doing something to help, not just sitting back helplessly watching your child suffer. It's perfectly all right to offer your lap as well as your hands, shoulders, heart and tears.  Your child is now and will always be “your child”…

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