April 1, 2016
On February 29th, Fernside presented our 2016 Listen, Learn…Live Speaker Series, All Grown Up & Talking About Grief. Often parents raising grieving children worry if their child will be okay and we thought who better to offer reassurance and advice than those who came to Fernside when they were children and are now all grown-up! As we were planning the program, we reached out to our Fernside volunteers who are also Fernside alumni and asked them to answer a few questions about the challenges they faced as a grieving child, what helped them the most and what advice they would give to a grieving child and parent today. This month we finish out our series by sharing the advice these young adult experts would give to a parent or caretaker of a grieving child.
Special thanks to our amazing Fernside contributors: Jillian Bennett, Brad Cutter, Logan Davis, Mary Kate Fogarty, Lauren Haar, Alex Huschart, Nicole Kotha, Tony Martino, TJ Quinn & Nicci Stemler!
What advice would you give to a parent raising a grieving child/teen?
Sometimes seeing you grieve and giving yourself permission to experience loss, will teach your child that it's ok to do the same.
Encourage sharing and attending of programs like Fernside, but if your child isn’t ready to share, don't force them. I would also say to consider the different ways someone might be grieving.
My biggest piece of advice would be just to be there for your child. Be there and be present. Listen to your child, love them, and talk to them about what happened. Be honest and when you feel comfortable, answer the questions that they may have.
Not every child grieves in the same way. Try and find what way of communicating works best for your child. For example, I am very artistic and expressive and love to talk.
Don't be afraid to talk to your child about the loss.
Be there to hold their hand – not to force their hand. People grieve at various "speeds,” and in many different methods. Just physically being there for the person who is grieving can help. If they know you are there as a source of comfort, they will come to you when the time is right.
The best piece of advice that I can offer to a parent is to surround your child with people who will love and support them unconditionally.
Be patient and listen. If your child has become more isolated or quiet since the death, it’s important to give them time to heal, rather than pressing for answers or conversation. There are some things that are obviously worthy of attention, but to some point, it’s really important to try and let them travel through their own journey of grief.
Be sure to check out our February and March blogs to read Parts 1 & 2 of our All Grown Up & Talking About Grief blog posts, featuring insights from our Fernside teen and young adult contributors.