And even today, we miss them and we would give anything to hear their stories, to feel their caresses and look at those eyes full of infinite tenderness.
While grandparents have the joy to see us being born and growing, as a fact of life, we must witness how they age and say goodbye to this world. The death of a grandparent is usually the first farewell that we will have to face in our childhood.
Grandparents, who assume the active role of raising their grandchildren, leave traces in their spirits, legacies that will accompany them for life as seeds of everlasting love during the days when they become invisible.
Nowadays it is very common to see grandparents participating in raising their grandchildren. They represent an invaluable support network in today’s families. Children however sense very well that the role of grandparents is different from that of their parents.
It is common that grandparents and grandchildren develop a very special, a deep and intimate bond, so the loss of the grandparents can be very shocking and delicate in the personality of a child or adolescent. We wish to reflect on this subject with you.
Saying good bye to Grandparents: the first experience dealing with loss
For some of us who have reached adulthood having our grandparents by our side,we have been truly privileged, however others, had to face their death when they were still in the early childhood, when children still don’t understand a loss like this in all the magnitude. Commonly adults are not able to fully explain what happened and try to soften the death as if it “does not hurt”.
Adults should explain things clearly to their children and they should tell them the truth, this is the advice of Psych pedagogues. Of course it’s necessary to know how to adapt the news according their age. One must, however, avoid making the mistake of many parents in preventing a last farewell of the child with his grandfather in the hospital, or beat around the bush with metaphors such as that “the grandfather is in a star or he is sleeping in the sky”.
- We must help the child understand death simply and without metaphors so that misconceptions are not formed. If we tell it that the grandfather has left, it is likely that the child’s question is, when he will return.
- If we are trying to explain to the child the death from a religious perspective it is necessary to emphasize in the fact that the deceased is not going to “come back”. The explanations must be very brief, simple and to the point, remember that a young mind can only absorb limited amounts of information.
- It is also important that adults don’t hide their feelings and tears before the eyes of children. We must teach them that death is not taboo. It is necessary to vent ourselves for the loss of a loved one, we should suffer and we speak of it freely. Children will do it at the right time and when they get a better understanding of such unfortunate events, meanwhile we must be their facilitators.
- We have to be attentive to the fact that children will ask us many questions and these requests require of intelligent and precise answers. The loss of grandparents in childhood or adolescence will always be a very complex matter, and the best thing to do at this moment is to grieve with the whole family and be very careful to any question or needs of your children.