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Friday, October 07, 2011

Talking to Children about Death: A Letter To Pops

Talking about the loss of a loved one is extremely difficult. Even more challenging is having a conversation about death with small children. We’ve lost several family members this year, and our oldest son, Roland, has been very perceptive and in-tuned with my grieving process.

My father was one of the most influential role models in my life. He passed away in April and my emotions have continued to be a roller coaster ride of cherishing and reflecting on great memories to being uncontrollably sad. There are many moments when I sit quietly on the sofa and reflect on how much he blessed my life. My heart aches from his passing, but my family and I have found strength in remembering the times we shared and how he chose to express himself and live on earth.

As parents, we often want to shield our emotions away from our children, but during the grieving process it’s difficult to hide your feelings. Children are so inquisitive and aware of their environments. Over the last several months, Roland has raised many questions about dying. I’ve found that being truthful, open about the topic to our oldest son, answering any questions that he might have, and keeping the lines of communication open, has been the best way to talk about the loss of a loved one.

In the most painful moments of your life, smaller children are curious and have so many questions. It’s been a learning experience to discuss death with our children, especially our oldest, because he does not have sensitivity filters and is very curious about the topic.

One evening, not too long ago, Roland was sitting in his bed writing a letter. "I'm writing a letter to Pops," Roland said. I was startled for a moment, but was touched by his comment and believed that this was part of his own grieving process.

What's been working for us is to talk about Pops. We share memories and stories in order for our boys to know him and learn of his accomplishments. It's my hope that by continuing to do so my Father's legacy will continue to live on through his grandsons.

Through my grief, I’ve found comfort in talking about loved ones who have passed. How have you dealt with talking to your own children about death? How have you found strength to heal in your own grieving process?

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