Building Bridges

Dealing with Loss

Children are different

A child who is old enough to love is old enough to grieve, and the tasks of grieving are the same for children as they are for adults. 

But you as a parent know that children are different. They are different from one another, they are different from one year to the next, and they are different from adults. They don't have as much experience as you have, as much ability to express ideas in words, as much ability to understand concepts, as much patience, as much tolerance for discomfort. They simply are not mature adults. 

Lacking adult skills, children have their own ways of processing grief, and they have a natural impulse to do so. They can deal with their pain through their play, their fantasy life, their behavior: vigorous or listless, visible or withdrawn.

So how can we help? We can actively support our children's natural grieving process, and we can protect them from inappropriate interference. 

Here is one basic concept that you can use to guide you in applying the thirty numbered concrete suggestions on the pages that follow:

When parents divorce children want and need to accomplish these tasks in their own way and at their own pace:
  • to understand what is happening
  • to express their feelings
  • to do the things that let them live fully
  • to attach meaning to what they are experiencing

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