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Grandparenting

Dealing with a bereavement

(8 Posts)
Ameliasnan Thu 07-Feb-13 14:51:57

I just noticed the thread about helping children cope with divorce and hope it's ok for me to raise another issue of this type. My grandchildren's other granny passed away very recently. She had become a good friend of mine and I am devastated, as (of course) is my son-in-law and my daughter. We are trying to hide our pain from the children 3 and a half and 10 and help them through this difficult time. They were very close to her. Trouble is none of us really know the best way to do this. Should we talk about it? Should we try to distract the?. The fact that they are so different in age probably means we should deal with it differently for both but we would all be so grateful for advice from anyone who has been through anything similar. With grateful thanks

HildaW Thu 07-Feb-13 15:04:08

Ameliasnan,
The advise we were given when I used to do Pre-schools, also in my Home-Start training was just give children plenty of time to talk, but when they were ready to do so. There are also some lovely books about that gently allow children to think about the emotions they are going through.We were also told to make sure the grown-ups in the family were not being too strong about it. Not trying too hard to conceal their feelings. If the parents put too brave a face on it the children feel they can't talk about it. As with coping with divorce, its sometimes easier for children to talk to someone who, they feel, is a little removed from the events. So by being a loving supporting Grandma you can just be there to listen and let them slowly adjust to the emotions they are having to deal with.

Granny23 Thu 07-Feb-13 15:06:30

I think you have to deal with this as honestly as possible as the DGC will quickly detect any pretence and be puzzled. So tell them that the grown ups are very upset and will miss other granny without making it into a huge drama. Encourage them to tell you how they felt about her and how they are feeling now if they want to but don't press them for responses - just go with the flow. Finally, I think it is very important to reassure them that YOU and their other close relatives/friends are going to be around and with them for the forseeable future. Sending flowers and {{{hugs}}}

Gally Thu 07-Feb-13 16:10:36

When my husband died last year, all the grandchildren were told, in different ways according to their level of understanding. Of course the very little ones don't understand and the babies are none the wiser, they just know that he Isn't there any more. Nell, now 3, talks of him often along with our dog who died shortly before. She thinks they live on a cloud and play on the beach as they always used to. When she flies, she waves out of the window to them much to the amusement of fellow passengers 'look mummy there's grandad and Milliie HELLO Grandad!' They are all surrounded by photos of him and he comes up in conversations very often. I think you have to be guided by them, be totally truthful. Tom and Barbaby were 7 and 5 and, although they live abroad and mostly had a Skype relationship with Grandad, still feel the loss and mention him often, sometimes in a ghoulish typical boy way! As Granny23 says, reassurance is paramount. They are all used to seeing us cry and can be comforting when this happens and not fazed by it. Just be yourselves.

glassortwo Thu 07-Feb-13 16:23:01

ameliasnan I think you have to be honest with them and explain to them in a way they will understand. Keep their Granny in their memories by talking about her and having photos about, also let them know its ok to be upset and dont be afraid to let them see that the adults are upset too. flowers

absent Thu 07-Feb-13 16:23:15

Children are surprisingly resilient and matter-of-fact, but do need the chance to talk about their feelings, even when their feelings seem inappropriate, as in the case of anger. When the rawness of loss has worn off, creating a garden for granny can be hugely helpful. I have a friend who does this as part of bereavement counselling and she says how remarkable the process is for healing. (It is particularly effective for children when a sibling has died.) The garden can either be a small plot in the family garden or the actual grave, if there is one.

FlicketyB Thu 07-Feb-13 19:52:12

DH's father died when our children were 9 & 11. He had been ill for some years and seriously ill prior to his death. We always talked about everything at home so we just included them in all conversations about his illness, death etc. They accepted his death because we had known for months that it could happen any day, and so did they

Four years later his widow, much his junior, and to whom they were very close died suddenly after a very short illness and hospital incompetence meant nobody told us she had gone into her final coma during the night and we only discovered her state when we visited her in visiting hours after lunch (some things never change). It was extremely traumatic for all of us, again we just included the children in everything from grieving, to raging, to laughing, yes, you do that as well.

The one thing we didnt do is take the children round to her flat once we began the process of disposing of her belongings. We gave them anything they wanted to keep but felt that the sight of an emptying flat as we gave, away, sold and threw away her personal belongings might be troubling to them.

merlotgran Thu 07-Feb-13 20:16:00

When one of my co-grannies died a few years ago, GS3 was only seven. He knew he was being taken to see his granny for the last time. Everything was carefully explained to him as much as we were able. He dealt with it in his own way by phoning relatives on our side of the family who had only met her once or twice asking if they'd like him 'to give her your love'. It's as though he invented a grown up responsibility to help him cope.