Great article regarding children and visiting a dying loved one. It is important to include children in the grieving process as well. Please also review our Child Grief Counseling Program
The article, Five ways to prepare young children to visit a loved one who is dying, by Jessica Hinton states
“Death and dying can be scary and uncomfortable subjects, so parents understandably may shy away from them and wonder if it’s a good idea to take their children to visit a relative or loved one in the hospital or a hospice facility. I wrestled with this when my grandmother was dying and ultimately chose to take my children to visit her in the hospital in her final days. I don’t regret that choice, because it gave the kids a chance to get to know her and also helped them start to understand that death is a normal part of life.
Kayce Hodos, a licensed professional counselor in North Carolina who specializes in grief and loss, says that while death and dying are difficult, they don’t need to be scary. Hodos likens the lessons a child can learn from a parent’s honest and transparent handling of death and dying to gifts. She says these children are better able to deal with loss and stress, and have a better perspective on the normal cycle of life and death. Visits to see a dying loved one are a great way to introduce these valuable lessons.
Along with teaching them about death, visits give children a chance to say goodbye and provide them with a sense of closure. They also support a familial culture of openness and honesty. Children whose parents include them in these experiences, says Amanda Thompson, a pediatric psychologist at Children’s National Health System, are more likely to feel safe and secure even in the face of a scary and anxiety-provoking event such as an impending death. The message communicated in these families, Thompson says, is: “We face the hard stuff together. We can talk about these things. And we’re here for each other no matter what.”
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