Newly widowed – caring for grieving children

  • Be honest with your children. This can be difficult, no one likes delivering bad news but they deserve answers to their questions. As hard as it is, they are better off being told the truth now (rather than hearing it from others or finding out later in life) and knowing they can trust you. You don't need to go into detail that isn't appropriate for their age, they will guide the conversation.
  • Surround children with people who love them and support them. Say yes when people offer to have the kids over or take them somewhere. You may feel like you can’t be separated from them, but it is important for you and for them. But do keep in mind that being around other families where both parents are present can bring up emotions and be confronting for the kids.
  • Just like adults, grief in children is also unique. You may find that each of your children react and cope very differently.
  • Listen to them – they will have a very good understanding of when they are ready to return to school and their extra-curricular activities. For some the routine that this offers is incredibly helpful.
  • Seek additional support through counselling if needed. You could go as a family or let them go alone.  They might find it easier to share their feelings with a neutral person, rather than risk upsetting you. 
  • It’s more than ok to grieve and cry in front of your children. How else will they learn that emotion is a healthy part of life? If you are holding yourself together for them, you are teaching them they need to hold their emotions in. It will likely not end well.
  • Seek help in keeping their routines as normal as possible.  If you're finding it hard to meet commitments, don't be too proud to ask for help.  For example, if they attend an after-school activity (such as sport) with a friend who's parent you trust, consider asking them to lend a hand by taking your child too. 
  • They need you. Even in moments when you feel as though you are failing, you are the most important adult in their lives and they need you. Take care of them. Make sure they brush their teeth, hug them, love them, feed them – even if it’s cereal for dinner for a little while!