Life is full of both beginnings and endings; be that moving house, changing school or job, relationships or indeed when someone we know dies. They serve a huge purpose in the human mind; they can be a goal to work towards; exams being a perfect example. Or they may provide the necessary closure on a chapter of life to enable us to process our emotions and move on, like a funeral or memorial service.
For many of our children and young people the Corona Virus pandemic, subsequent lockdown and social distancing requirements will mean that they will lose significant endings from their lives. Many will miss out on traditional end of year 'rituals'; from the pre-schooler heading to reception, year 6's transitioning to high school, as well as those due to take their exams and attend proms and parties. Losing all of this without warning will be very difficult for some to understand. If this is the case for any of your children, please make sure you listen to how they are feeling and let them know that it is ok to feel like that. Make plans for when the restrictions are relaxed, but make sure they are what your children want, not yourself. This could be organising a party, playdates or simply using the internet just to keep in touch with their friends (great even for the littlest ones). Schools are doing their absolute best to minimise the impact on children and young people by providing information on transition requirements and what you can do at home to support this. Remember though you can only do what you can do, you are not a teacher and so if it doesn't work for you don't beat yourself up, children do, and will catch up.
The restrictions being placed on gatherings also mean that if someone within the family unit does die, children may not be able to attend the funeral, losing the opportunity to say goodbye and take part in this very important part of the grieving process. This could lead to children and young people struggling to process their feelings, and it can be difficult for parents to know what to say or do to best support them.
If this does happen, Mosaic would suggest that that they mark it in some way at home whether that's by lighting a candle and each speaking a few words or sharing fond memories/reading poems/ cards etc. This may be helpful to give some closure for them as they will be holding their own special service/wake. With some of the video calling apps available it may be possible to include lots of other family members even if you do not all live together, which would make the day more special and meaningful.
It can also be useful to do some creative activities with children following the death to allow them to feel that they are involved with the 'funeral' planning, much as they may have been under different circumstances. You could make a family jar of memories of your loved one, create a collage of photographs/pictures or make a memory tree where other family and friends could email over their memories or anecdotes so this could be shared by the family who are holding the ceremony. Whatever you choose to do it is really important that the funeral is acknowledged and spoken about in some way as this is an important part of the grief process.
If at any time you feel your children are struggling with their grief or you are unsure of how to help them, please give us a call on 01258 837071, leave a message and one of our trained counsellors will return your call.
It can be very easy to be swept along with a 'new beginnings' philosophy, but all of us need to have and process our endings too……