It is very, very important for parents to say to each of their surviving children, “You are not (the name of the child who died), you are (the name of the child you are speaking to).” In our wisdom as parents, we said to our son Vincent, “You are not Reed, you are Vincent. You are not responsible for living any part of Reed’s life. You are only responsible for living your own. We do not expect you to become Reed.” That is what you say to your surviving child or children.

Many times you will need to keep your grieving separate. We had our time to grieve. A friend who lost her son a few months after our son died said, “I go into the shower every morning for 20 minutes, turn on the water as hot as I can, and I wail.” She had no other children at home so this was her time to grieve alone.

My husband and I are early risers so we got up early every morning, sat together and simply cried for three hours. Then our son, Vincent, would get up and go off to high school. Even though we kept our grief separate for these long time periods every morning, I feel that it is very important for your children to see you grieve for their brother or sister that is no longer with you. What it does is it gives them permission to grieve outwardly, too. Too much outward grief on your part will make them feel afraid, but not seeing you grieve at all will raise questions in their mind like, “Why isn’t mom crying?” “I feel so sad.” Your lack of open grief doesn’t allow them to feel like they can grieve openly.

Actually grieving with your children is very important. If you Google “grief books for children”, you will find 25 books to help children grieve. It is very important to get ahold of these books, if your children are of an appropriate age, and sit and read the books with them so that it gives an opportunity for grief to come as you are together.

If your child is silent, it is very important for you to ask him what he is feeling right then, and to get him the help that he needs. Let them know that they are not alone, and tell them that you know other people besides you, as their parent, that can help them through their grief.

If you decide to get someone outside of your family to counsel your child, it is very important for you as the grieving parent to ask the person what their beliefs are. Do they believe there are a certain number of days that we are all supposed to be here, do they believe that we have many opportunities to depart this Earth, was it just good or bad luck or do they believe that it was a matter of faith?

As a parent, you still have the responsibility to teach your children, find them the right resources and sit with them in times of grief.

A memory that you could create with your children is to write a book together. Find someone who has a Mac computer, and you ask them if you can borrow it so you can write a book together with your children about the brother or sister that is gone.

Remember that children are naturally playful, inquisitive, sparkling, blameless and full of wonder. Give them opportunities to go with you and put aside their grief for awhile. You could say something like, “You know what? We’re going to get up today and have a picnic. We’ll go on a nature walk, too.” Just take them to a place in the neighborhood where they can begin to be full of wonder, inquisitive and experience some of those sparkling moments. It doesn’t have to be something that costs a lot of money.

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