Cheryl of Missouri writes:
"My 2-1/2-year-old daughter lost her grandfather. Despite my explanation that he's in heaven, she continues to ask where he is and if she can visit him. How can I help her deal with this loss?"
Here are your suggestions:
Create a memory book. Include pictures of your daughter and her grandfather, mementos related to special memories you have and most importantly, include memories that are meaningful to your daughter. Ask her to tell you what she loved most about Grandpa, and write those down in the album. Then, when she asks about him, pull out the album and page through it.
Remember children are inquisitive. They often ask the same question over and over. Each time they reaffirm in their minds what they already know and learn more as they process the information in a new way. By answering each question truthfully, you're helping your daughter get over the loss.
Keep a photo out. When we went through this experience, we found that a picture of Grandpa helped our children deal with the loss. The picture seemed to soothe the hurt of not being with him in person. Then we prayed and thanked God for the time we did have with Grandpa. Above all, ask God to help your little one understand and grasp the difficult passage of death.
Make a video. We created a "Grandpa video" from footage we had of our daughter and her grandfather playing together. We allowed her to watch it as often as she wanted. Also, we let her visit Grandma often so she could ask questions about Grandpa. For three to four months after her grandfather died, she asked every day where he was. But with patience, hugs and a lot of understanding she worked through her loss.
Beth M. Symanzik
Use simple terms. Responses such as "We aren't able to see him today; but when we are much, much older, we will go see him" will help your daughter begin to understand death. And when you pray with her include "Thank you God that Grandpa is with you and that you are taking good care of him."
Focus on the splendor of heaven. When I talk to my young children about loved ones who have died, I ask them questions such as "What do you think Aunt Brenda is doing up in heaven?" or "Do you think she's happy?" Then I tell them that Aunt Brenda (or whoever) is no longer sick, weak or sad. Jesus is with her. Children feel more comfortable with death when they realize a wonderful place awaits those who love Jesus and that loved ones are well cared for.
Kristin L. Rathje
Can You Help?
Jill in Orlando writes: "Due to my difficult pregnancy and severe postpartum depression, my husband and I will most likely only have one child. While my husband is happy with one, I have concerns. How can we be sure our only child will be well-adjusted and content? Won't he feel cheated by not having siblings?"
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