How to help with the loss of a grandparent

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One of life’s many certainties: the loss of loved ones. It’s difficult, crushing, and when it comes to grandparents, it’s the first real brush with mortality our kids will experience. Many times, the death of the goldfish is the first time our children learn about it. However when it comes to the loss of a grandparent, through our own pain we also have to guide our children through this difficult time.

Losing a grandparent can help teenagers grow in maturity, and teach them lessons in life that they can only learn through experience.

As teenagers, they are old enough to attend the funeral, old enough to understand their circumstances around the death, and old enough to know their parents are in deep pain.

Funerals can be overwhelming for everyone, especially teens whose emotions are already heightened. It’s best on the day to go over what will happen so that he or she will be prepared for the events of the day. An open casket can be a scary one for adults and teenagers, so let them decide if this is something they are comfortable with. A grandparent’s altered appearance as a deceased body, can be a shock to the system. However, providing their grandparent with an item, a card or picture can sometimes offer comfort to your teenager.

Funerals are a trying day for everyone. Some people will keep it together, but it’s important to remember and let your teenagers know that some will be visibly upset. Some may even cry uncontrollably. Everyone has a different way of remembering their loved ones they have recently lost.

With the death of a grandparent, if it’s the first real loss in their lives, comes many questions. They may have questions about where they go, ask confronting questions, that as a parent you may not be ready to answer due to your own grief. It’s important to remember you are going through your own process of losing a loved one, and it’s okay to not have all the answers. You can share your grief with your teenager. Teenagers understand sadness so they will want to comfort you as a parent, and help their remaining grandparent. Often the best thing they can do is sit with you, so just tell them that. Sometimes they’ll just want to help.

After the funeral can be a confusing time. We’ve said goodbye to our loved one, but the process is nowhere near over. It takes time to adjust for the entire family. Saturday mornings to the nursing home are no longer, and Christmas is forever altered without this grandparent. Death marks the beginning of new routines, often sad ones.

Heightened emotions are also common when it comes to teenagers dealing with a death in the family. Anxiousness, fearing their other grandparent will die soon, or acting out. With teenagers it’s important to notify the school so they can be aware of any changes in their behaviour. If this does happen, most of the time it will be temporary. And for your own mourning, if it gets too much, a councillor is always an option to help you cope with the grief process.


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