How to Cope with Death - By Ignacio Ferreras [From TANDEM]
How to Cope With the Death of a Grandparent
The death of a grandparent is often a child’s first experience with death and grief.Coping with this loss can be difficult and may take time to deal with. Grief is a process that affects everyone differently, no matter your age group. There are no right or wrong ways to cope with the pain of losing a grandparent, but you can use healthy methods to process your loss.
Reaching Out to Others
Talk to someone in your family about your grandparent’s death.Reach out to your parents, your siblings, or another person in your family that you feel close to. Try to talk about your grandparent’s death as a way to process your grief. Ask questions about your grandparent’s life, especially if you did not know her well. Focus on addressing her death with others in your family as a way to cope together.
- You could start by asking your parents, "Where did grandma go?" or "Why did grandma go away?"
- If you are a parent responding to your child's questions about the grandparent's death, use simple and clear language. Respond with: "You know that grandma has been sick for some time with cancer. He wasn't sick the way you were when you had a cold last week, this was very different. We all hoped she would get better. But she didn't and now she has died from cancer."
Do not feel afraid or ashamed to cry in front of others.While you may think it is embarrassing or shameful to cry in front of others, releasing your emotions can help you to grieve and displaying grief to others may also help them grieve. Be okay with crying and showing emotion around your grandparent’s death. Support your family members or friends who are also upset and give them a hug or comfort them in some way.
- Parents who are talking to their children about the death of a grandparent should be open with their emotions and cry or get upset. Your child will take this a sign that he can also cry or get upset, allowing him to process his grief.
Attend your grandparent’s funeral with your family, if possible.Though it may be difficult, attending the funeral can help with the grieving process and make it easier to understand that your grandparent is gone. Going with your family can offer you support and kinship as you grieve.
- Parents can ask the child if she would like to go to the funeral to celebrate and acknowledge the life of the deceased grandparent. Offering this option will allow the child to decide if she is comfortable with attending. Often, children will opt to attend so they can say goodbye to their grandparent.
- If your child decides to attend the funeral, you should talk to her beforehand about what to expect at the funeral. Note that she may line up behind other family members and choose to view the body or she may decide to stay on the sidelines. Explain what a casket is and that the grandparent may appear like he is sleeping in the casket. You may also want to talk to the person running the service and let him know that you are bringing a child with you to the service.
Paying Tribute to Your Grandparent
Create a memorial for your grandparent.Sometimes it can help to create a physical tribute to your grandparent by making a memorial. This could be a collection of photographs of your grandparent or a drawing or painting you make of your grandparent and frame. You could then hang it in a special spot in your home or your room so you always remember your grandparent.
Write a letter to your grandparent.Another way to create a tribute to your grandparent is to sit down and write a personal letter or story about your grandparent or dedicated to your grandparent. You can then store the letter in a safe place and read it whenever you are feeling sad about her death. Expressing your emotions by writing them down can help you to process your grief and cope with her death.
Getting Professional Help
Talk to a counselor at school.If you are younger in age and struggling with the death of a grandparent, you may want to reach out to a counselor at your school. Talk about any emotions or feelings you may be having and how you struggling to process these feelings. Often, your grief can lead to other issues, such as doing poorly in school or feeling socially isolated from others. Sharing your feelings with a counselor may help to alleviate some of your sadness and grief, allowing you to start to feel better.
- The counselor may suggest coping with your grief by taking up extracurricular activities you enjoy doing. She may also help you recognize any triggers in your external environment that could cause you to feel sad, upset, or depressed.
- The counselor can also teach you positive coping strategies, where you channel your negative feelings into positive actions, such as doing relaxation exercises, socializing with family and friends, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Speak to a therapist if you feel disturbed or upset by your grandparent’s death.You can also seek professional help from a grief counselor or a therapist that specializes in grief. Talk to your parents if you are of a younger age and experiencing intense feelings of loss that will not go away or that are conflicting with your day to day life.
- The therapist may suggest writing down your feelings and emotions in a journal, run through role playing exercises with you, and help you to process any feelings of "unfinished business" with your deceased grandparent so you can gain a sense of closure.
Join a grief support group.There are many grief support groups that you can join, whether in your area, or online. Look for a support group that focuses on the loss of a grandparent or an elder. Often, it can be very comforting to talk to others who are experiencing very similar emotions as you in a safe, welcoming environment.
QuestionIt's been 8 years and I can't heal. Any advice on how to cope with this loss?
M.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingM.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingExpert AnswerI recommend you see a counselor who can help you process your grief. A counselor who specializes in grief and loss would be best.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if I'm to scared to talk to anyone about my feelings?SophiaCommunity AnswerTry writing it down. It's just like talking to someone, but more personal.Thanks!
QuestionMy 8-year-old son was really close to his grandpa who recently died, and he keeps crying and won't sleep without a blanket his grandpa made him. How can I help him?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLosing a loved one is extremely hard. Give him a safe environment to express his emotions. Comfort him, tell him that you miss him too, and that it's okay to be sad. Let him sleep with the blanket until he chooses to let it go. Playing soothing and happy (but not too upbeat) music at night can also help. Have him think about happy memories about his grandpa instead of sad ones.Thanks!
QuestionMy grandpa died a year ago and I still think about him every day. Is this okay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, this is okay. This is a part of the natural grieving process.Thanks!
QuestionI was very close to my poppy and he recently passed away. How can I save money for a keychain with his fingerprint on it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk your parents if they'd be willing to give you an allowance in exchange for weekly chores. Alternatively, you could look for small jobs to do around your neighborhood, like walking dogs or mowing lawns.Thanks!
QuestionMy Grandpa just died. I have to do a reading, but every time I see a picture of him, I burst into tears. How do I keep it in?Beth SloneCommunity AnswerYou don't. It is unrealistic to believe you should or could contain your emotions after a loss. It's okay to be vulnerable and display emotions at his service. You will not be alone in your grief. However, if you must make a speech and you want to be understood, remember to breathe. Take deep breaths. Take your time speaking your speech, do not rush it. Find a caring face in the crowd, such as a parent, or a relative you trust well, and focus on them when you start to feel unstable.Thanks!
Sources and Citations
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