Hello Hope For Widows Foundation Community,
Today, November 15, 2018 is Children’s Grief Awareness Day.We honor all children in their grieving process. Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, the author of Companioning The Grieving Child: A Soulful Guide for Caregivers and Founder and Director, of Center for Loss and Life Transition, gives us the importance of Children’s Grief Awareness Day. He writes: “Children’s Grief Awareness Day allows us to advocate that any child that is old enough to love is old enough to mourn. We can all work together to be advocates and teach other adults how children are natural mourners but that they need the love and support of caring adults. To be “bereaved” in part means “to have special needs” This day allows us to highlight what some of the special needs of grieving children are and help others create places where children experiencing grief are safe to openly and authentically mourn. And we know that if children mourn well, they go on to live well and love well.”
Also, Kenneth J. Doka, Senior Consultant of The Hospice Foundation of America writes: “Children grieve, too. That simple fact is often unrecognized so children become disenfranchised grievers. In some cases, they are disenfranchised (without a right to grieve) because we think they cannot understand or we wish to protect them, and ourselves. In other cases we may misunderstand the ways their grief is expressed, perhaps in behavioral issues, or even play.
I’m the parent of 2 daughters who were ages 8 years and 2 months old when their father passed away 8 ½ years ago. They each have their own individualized grieving process. Just imagine how my oldest, Jordan, who is now 16, has had to cope with, being fatherless. Crying on Father’s Day, starting Junior and Senior High school, learning to drive a car, not having a male perspective of life in the home, navigating adolescence. These are all stages to be mourned when a child has lost a father. Even having someone to to run to when she doesn’t agree with me. Its just not fair. She will grieve this loss for the rest of her life. But as she matures into young adulthood, I see that the grief that was once an albatross around her neck, keeping her from moving forward, is transforming her into an eagle, daring her to soar to her destiny. She’s growing through her pain. Its an honor to be able to witness.
My youngest, who was only 2 months old when her father passed away, grieves what she’s never had. I remember when she was almost 2 and she she came to me angrily and stated “Where’s my Daddy!!!” Apparently between watching television and talking to daycare friends, her preschool mind deduced that I had help making her. She was correct and I was speechless. Then at about 4 years old, I was straightening the storage closet and she saw an old camping chair that was her father’s. She asked, whose it was and I said “Your Daddy’s”. Later that day, I saw that she had unfolded the chair and was laying across it as if in her father’s lap. I wept as I watched, never disturbing the Mikayla and daddy lap time she created.
A child often doesn’t understand the loss or the emotions behind it. It is up to the adults in the child’s life to gently guide them through the grief process understanding that there is no right or wrong way for a child to grieve. Love will lead the way for a child to heal from great loss.
Maureen Bobo, Hope For Widows Foundation